GRUNDY CENTER, Iowa — Last year, Sgt. Jim Smith was killed in the line of duty. In May, the man who pulled the trigger was found guilty of murder, and on Monday he was sentenced to life in prison.
Police say the incident started when a Grundy County sheriff’s deputy pulled over Michael Lang in April of last year. Lang attacked the officer and put him in a choke hold until other drivers stopped to help.
Police say Lang then drove home and barricaded himself inside. When negotiations failed, police called in a tactical team, led by Sgt. Jim Smith of the Iowa State Patrol. Lang opened fire as officers moved in, killing Smith.
Jurors convicted Lang of first-degree murder, attempted murder, and assault on a peace officer with the intent to inflict serious injury last month.
Monday, a Grundy County judge rejected Lang’s motion for a new trial and he was sentenced.
Smith’s family members were in the courtroom for the hearing and they made sure Lang knew how they felt.
“As of April 9th, 2021, this day will always be remembered as the day our world stopped. As we heard that Jim had been tragically, viciously, and senselessly taken from all of us way too soon,” said sister Michelle Smith, Jim’s sister.
Daughter Jazlyn Smith said, “This man took away my best friend. My dad was the most comedic, selfless, encouraging, understanding, and God-honoring person I have ever, and will ever, meet.”
“How will I live without my husband? Jim was always there for me and for our kids. Our future dreams and plans together will never be. I didn’t blame God for what happened. Evil people do evil things. I only blame this man,” said Katherine Smith.
Lang declined his chance to address the court and sat silently as the sentence was handed down.
He received the mandatory sentence of life in prison on the murder charge, 25 years for attempted murder, and five years for assault on a peace officer with the intent to inflict serious injury.
All of the sentences will be served concurrently but Lang is not eligible for parole.