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Iowa Attorney General says use of deadly force by officers was justified and reasonable during standoff that claimed Iowa trooper’s life

Sgt. James Smith

GRUNDY CENTER – On Friday, April 9, 2021, Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Jim Smith #462, a 27-year-veteran of the Patrol, was shot and killed while attempting to arrest a barricaded subject in Grundy Center. That subject was identified as Michael Thomas Lang. During the attempted arrest, Sergeant Smith was accompanied by three Iowa State Patrol Troopers and a Hardin County Sheriff’s Deputy K-9 unit.

Shortly after Sergeant Smith was shot, the Hardin County Sheriff’s Deputy who had been part of the entry team, fired shots at Lang, but those shots did not hit him.

Subsequent to Sergeant Smith being killed, at approximately 11:50 p.m., an Iowa State Patrol Tactical Team attempted to make entry into the residence with a wheeled armored personnel carrier. During the entry, Lang shot multiple rounds at the personnel carrier. Iowa State Patrol Troopers returned fire at Lang and he was subsequently taken into custody by Iowa State Patrol Tactical Team members.

Lang was transported by EMS personnel to the Grundy County Memorial Hospital before being transferred to the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics for further treatment. Medical personnel discovered that Lang was found to have three gunshot wounds as a result of return fire by officers.

The names of the officers who returned fire at Lang during this incident are now being released. Hardin County Sheriff’s Deputy Mitch Kappel, a 13-year veteran of the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office, Trooper Josh Guhl, a 13-year veteran of the Iowa State Patrol, Trooper Matt Costello, a 17-year veteran of the Iowa State Patrol, and Trooper Spencer Baltes, a 4-year veteran of the Iowa State Patrol, were identified as the officers who discharged their weapons during the overall incident. All officers were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the officer-involved shooting investigation.

The Grundy County Attorney’s Office requested that the Iowa Attorney General’s Office review the facts surrounding the officer-involved shooting incident during, and after, Sergeant Smith was killed. After reviewing the facts of the investigation, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office concluded that the use of deadly force by all four officers was justified and reasonable.

Iowa Office of the Attorney General Letter – April 26, 2021

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, along with the Iowa State Patrol, the Grundy County Sheriff’s Office, the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office and the Grundy Center Police Department assisted in the investigation.

Michael Lang
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