Sgt James “Jim” Smith #462
April 9, 2021
On Friday, April 9, at approximately 7:22 p.m., Grundy Center Police attempted to conduct a traffic stop on Michael Thomas Lang, within Grundy Center City limits. Lang fled from Grundy Center Police and he was chased to an area southeast of town. Lang pulled over on 250th Avenue, exited his vehicle and assaulted the Grundy Center Police Officer who chased him. During the assault, Lang yelled, “shoot me” multiple times to the Officer. Lang disarmed the officer of his Taser, removed his radio and put the Officer in a chokehold.
Law enforcement responded to the area of the assault. A Grundy County Deputy arrived on scene and witnessed the Officer recovering from the assault and Lang in the area of the Officer’s patrol vehicle. The Deputy drew his weapon and gave commands to Lang to put his hands up. Lang did not comply, stating, “Come get me,” and subsequently got into his vehicle and fled the area.
The Deputy pursued Lang back into Grundy Center but lost sight of him. The Deputy went to Lang’s residence located at 305 G Avenue, saw Lang’s vehicle parked in the driveway, and Lang walking into the residence through the garage. The Deputy requested assistance from other law enforcement officers. Responding law enforcement set up a perimeter around the house. Lang’s father arrived at the house and advised law enforcement that Lang had multiple firearms inside the residence, including a .410 shotgun.
At approximately 8:55 p.m., Sgt. Smith, three additional ISP Troopers, and a Hardin County Sheriff’s Deputy K-9 unit made entry into the residence through the door of the garage leading into the residence. Prior to entering the residence, Sgt. Smith and the entry team verbally identified themselves as law enforcement. They also announced that they would send in a K-9. As Sgt. Smith and the entry team began to clear the upstairs of the residence, Sgt. Smith was hit by gunfire coming from inside the residence. After Sgt. Smith was shot, members of the entry team observed Lang emerge from the doorway holding a black pump action shotgun.
ISP 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. Lang was subsequently taken into custody by ISP Tactical Team members.
Sgt Smith’s murder marked only the second time in the history of the Iowa State Patrol that a Trooper was shot and killed in the line of duty.