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Officers who shot Lang in standoff were ‘reasonable and legally justified,’ probe closed

Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 3:47 PM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG) - The Iowa Attorney General’s office has concluded a review of the use of deadly force in the standoff in Grundy County, determining that the officers who shot back at the assailant were justified in their actions.

According to a letter regarding the inquiry written by Special Assistant Attorney General Scott Brown, the four law enforcement officers who discharged their weapons during the attempt to take Michael Thomas Lang into custody. The investigation by the state office was requested by the Grundy County Attorney following the April 9 incident.

The standoff began after an attempted traffic stop which Lang eluded then allegedly assaulted the officer once he finally stopped. Lang again fled, barricading himself in his residence in Grundy Center. Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Jim Smith was shot and killed during an attempt to enter the home and arrest Lang. Following that incident, a standoff ensued with Lang and law enforcement officials, coming to a conclusion when they used an armored vehicle to enter Lang’s home. Lang allegedly fired at the vehicle, resulting in officers firing back and hitting him three times.

Lang has been charged with first-degree murder, attempt to commit murder, and assault on a peace officer.

Brown wrote that, given the repeated shots fired by Lang, including those that hit and killed Smith, and verbal threats made during the standoff, the officers were within their right to use deadly force in response.

“The actions of the officers who encountered Lang on April 9, 2021, were entirely legally justified,” Brown wrote. “Lang used and continue to threaten deadly force during his entire interactions with law enforcement. Lang provided no other option to the officers who encountered him other than to utilize potentially deadly force against him. Lang was provided every opportunity to end the confrontation peacefully and chose not to do so. The decision to fire at Lang by each officer was reasonable and legally justified under the circumstances.”

The officers were identified as 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 four-year veteran of the Iowa State Patrol.

The investigation by the attorney general’s office into the officer-involved shooting is considered closed.

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