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Lang Trial Day 2: Tactical team members recount shooting of Sergeant Smith, take down of Lang

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WEBSTER CITY, Iowa (KWWL) -- Testimony continued for a second day on Wednesday in the murder trial of Michael Lang, the man accused of killing Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Jim Smith.

Lang is accused of shooting and killing Sergeant Smith in a standoff after barricading himself inside his home. He shot and killed Sgt. Smith when he and other troopers entered the house.

Prosecutors offered the clearest picture of what happened inside Lang's home as several Iowa State Patrol tactical team members took the stand. Troopers Jordan Barnes and Matthew Lively testified, as did Mitch Kappel, who is a State Trooper now, but at the time was a K-9 handler for the Hardin County Sheriff's Office.

Kappel and Barnes described their plan to enter the home. The tactical team entered through the garage and first cleared that area and what prosecutors referred to as a north addition.

The team then turned its attention to the basement. Kappel said he and Smith made several announcements before sending his dog into the basement. Then Kappel, Smith and Barnes followed the dog down afterward to confirm it was empty.

As they walked back up the stairs to a landing where the kitchen door is, Barnes and Kappel said they looked in a closet and saw a gun case with several long guns inside.

Kappel then quickly opened the kitchen door for Smith but testified they did not see or hear anyone inside. After calling out to Lang and identifying themselves several more times. Kappel said Sergeant Smith saw Lang and noticed he had a weapon.

"Gun, gun, gun," several State Troopers testified, Sergeant Smith, shouted. Smith took two steps back, then a loud shot rang out that sounded like a shotgun, and Sergeant Smith fell to the ground.

"I believe it was two shots from both sides of my ears," he said.

Kappel and Barnes fell back down the stairs into the basement, and Kappel said he fired two shots but missed. The two were pinned in the basement for about two hours because they did not believe they could safely get back upstairs.

Day 2 of arguments in the trial for Michael Lang, accused of killing Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Jim Smith during an April 2021 standoff in Grundy Center.

WARNING: Some of the evidence presented in this trial will be graphic, viewer discretion advised.

On the other hand, Trooper Lively focused on Sergeant Smith, who was lying motionless on the floor. He tried to talk with him and get a response, but he was not responsive.

Lively said he pulled Smith by his uniform back into cover and a room behind the garage. By this point, Sergeant Smith was not conscious and Lively said he was gasping for air.

With the help of a Sheriff's deputy, Lively was able to pull Jim from a patio behind the house to behind a fence on the back side of the house, where they were able to get paramedics to him.

"At this point in my thoughts and my heart, I didn't think it would help, because I thought Jim was gone, but I still thought I needed to get him to a professional, and there's a chance he could be saved or something miraculous could happen."

Kappel said Lang cussed at and threatened them to get out of his house throughout their time in the basement.

Barnes recounted hearing Lang say, "You can leave. I won't shoot you in the back. I'll be a gentleman."

Some of it was caught on his body camera. His body camera was not on when they initially entered the house, but he turned it on while pinned downstairs.

"He said he was nice to the first guy by shooting him in the chest, but come sunup, he was going to shoot us in the face with a slug," Kappel recalled Lang saying from upstairs.

After the bearcat knocked down the front wall of the house, other tactical team members were able to get downstairs and free Kappel and Barnes.

During cross-examination, defense lawyers frequently asked witnesses how many law enforcement officers were on the scene when they arrived.

Tom Williams, a State Trooper and the crisis negotiator on scene, testified about his conversations over 35 to 40 minutes that night. He said Lang asked him why law enforcement officers were in his basement.

Williams said Lang told him there was "no way" he would come out of his house. He recounted Lang saying in the morning he planned to "walk down in the basement, they were going to walk out of his house, or he was going to start shooting."

Williams was in the bearcat while talking with Lang. As the bearcat knocked out two kitchen windows, Williams said there were two gunshots from the house. One of them hit the Bearcat windshield.

"If it had made it through the windshield, I would have been hit," Chris Ossian, who was driving the bearcat testified. 

After those shots rang out, several Iowa State Troopers returned fire and hit Lang.

On cross-examination, Williams said as they gave Lang a one-minute warning and as time expired, he came to the door. That is when bearcat started its assault on the front wall. So Lang retreated and opened fire.

State prosecutors also called a DCI criminologist and two DCI special agents to the stand, who discussed the evidence collected on the scene, including Sergeant Smith's clothes, the gun Lang used, and spent and unspent shell casings.

The evidence portion of the state's presentation is expected to continue Thursday morning when the trial resumes at 9 a.m. in Hamilton County. More investigators who collected evidence and the doctor who conducted Smith's autopsy are still expected to be called to testify.

Lang Trial Day 1: Law enforcement officers take stand, recount what lead up to deadly standoff

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