An Iowa police officer was killed while attempting to arrest a man who had previously assaulted another officer, the Iowa Department of Public Safety said.
Sgt. Jim Smith, a 27-year veteran of the Iowa State Patrol, was shot and killed while attempting to apprehend Michael Thomas Lang, who had barricaded himself in his home in Grundy Center on Friday evening, the agency said Saturday.
Stephan Bayens, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, said in a press conference that Smith “died a hero” and “sacrificed himself protecting others.”
“Sgt. Jim Smith was a friend. Sgt. Jim Smith was a brother. Sgt. Jim Smith was a son. Sgt. Jim Smith was a husband. Sgt. Jim Smith was a dad. Sgt. Jim Smith was a protector of the innocent. Sgt. Jim Smith was a guardian of justice. Sgt. Jim Smith was a man of God,” Bayens said. “Sgt. Jim Smith, and I’m going to keep saying his name until his sacrifice has been seared upon the hearts of anyone that can hear my voice.”
Police attempted to conduct a traffic stop on Lang, who officers believe had been barred from driving, at 7:22 p.m. Friday, but Lang fled before pulling over, exiting his vehicle and assaulting a Grundy Center police officer.
Lang disarmed the officer, took his Taser and radio and placed the officer in a chokehold while yelling “shoot me.” A Grundy County deputy arrived at the scene and drew his firearm, while commanding Lang to put his hands up as Lang yelled “come get me” returning to his vehicle and leading officers on a chase until they lost sight of him.
He was eventually spotted entering his home through the garage as his father arrived at the scene and told officers he had “multiple firearms inside the residence, including a .410 caliber shotgun.”
Law enforcement set up a perimeter around Lang’s house and the surrounding area and announced themselves as they entered the home including declaring they would send in a K-9 unit. Smith was hit by gunfire as the entry team was searching the upstairs area of the house.
As officers removed Smith’s body from the house Lang was heard stating that he had shot Smith and desired to shoot more officers as he barricaded himself inside the house. The Iowa State Patrol tactical team attempted to enter the residence with an armored personnel carrier and exchanged gunfire with Lang, who was shot multiple times.
He was ultimately taken into custody and transported to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in critical condition. Lang was charged with first-degree murder and held on $1 million cash bond.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced flags would be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on the day of Smith’s burial.
“It’s with deep sorrow that we recognize the loss of Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Jim Smith, a courageous hero who died in the line of duty,” she said in a statement. “Sgt. Jim Smith was a loving husband, father of two and a pillar of the community. I along with the entire state of Iowa grieve for his family and friends as they try to cope with this devastating loss.”
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