"I wanted to be a lawyer since I was 9," said Smith, who declined to provide his age.
He said he was inspired in part by movies with legal themes, including "12 Angry Men," the 1957 drama with Henry Fonda as a juror who persuades other jurors not to rush to convict a murder defendant.
"There is no way to make an impartial judgment," Smith said, "if you don't have all the evidence."
At BART, Smith will investigate police shootings and complaints against officers, monitor police performance policies and trends, and make his recommendations to the police department, citizens review board, and the transit agency's elected board of directors.
If Smith and the BART police chief disagree about discipline for an officer, the case will be referred to the agency's general manager for a decision.
Smith refused to speculate whether the Hill shooting was justified. He was out of town for the holiday weekend and was unable to respond to the shooting scene. In the investigation, however, BART police internal affairs investigators update him regularly. He declined to discuss specifics, saying it could undermine the investigation, which the San Francisco Police Department is coordinating.
BART's internal affairs branch is also reviewing the case to determine if discipline of the officers is warranted.
Smith reviews police, medical and autopsy reports, and listens to recorded interviews. If he thinks more questions need to be asked, he can submit the suggestion to front-line investigators.
Some parts of his final reports may be withheld from the public because of legal protections for police officers, he said.
Still, his reports have teeth, Smith said.
"At the end of the day," he said, "I'll be making sure the right conclusions have been reached."
Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff . Read the Capricious Commuter at IBAbuzz.com/transportation .
Position: BART police auditor overseeing civilian monitoring of transit police Residence: Oakland Experience: First deputy chief administrator of the Chicago Independent Police Review Authority; special investigator with the Los Angeles Police Commission Office of Inspector General, which reviews complaints Education: Political science degree from UC Berkeley and law degree from UCLA
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