SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah, Dec. 6, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — The morning after South Salt Lake Officer David Romrell was laid to rest, suspect Jeffrey Don Black was formally charged with his murder.
Black, 43, was a passenger on Nov. 24 in the fleeing car that struck officer Romrell, one of several officers who had responded to the scene of an attempted burglary.
Romrell was taken to surgery, but his injuries proved fatal. Black is now charged with:
- Murder, a first-degree felony
- Robbery, a second-degree felony
- Obstructing justice, a second-degree felony
- Burglary, a third-degree felony
- Failure to stop at the command of law enforcement, a class A misdemeanor
The car’s driver, Felix Anthony Calata, 32 was shot by officers on scene and died.
A probable cause statement filed Thursday morning states that on Nov. 24, South Salt Lake Police were dispatched to a burglary in progress at an apartment at 3575 S. West Temple. The female resident reported at least two people attempting to break into her residence.
“Upon the officers’ arrival, they encountered a black Chevrolet Impala driving toward the parking lot entrance,” the statement says. “The police officers yelled at the driver to stop.
“The drier accelerated towards officer David Romrell before striking him and dragging him several feet. Officer Romrell later died from his injuries. Two male occupants fled from the crashed vehicle and were later taken into custody. The males were identified as Felix Calata and Jeffrey Black. Calata was transported to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead from gunshot wounds.”
Black was located hiding inside a boat near the crashed vehicle, the statement says. Although he did not comply with commands by officers to exit the boat, he was released after being interviewed.
On Nov. 26, Black contacted an officer to request the return of personal property, and agreed to answer more questions.
“Post-Miranda, Black admitted to going with Felix Calata to the address of occurrence to ‘tax’ (take money from) (the resident). Black admitted at one point to driving the vehicle during the burglary and admitted to assisting Calata in getting a crowbar from the truck, which Calata used to try to pry open the door.”
Black told police that he and Calata “were unable to gain entry and that he told Calata it was taking too long.” the statement says. “The two were leaving when they saw police lights and heard officers yelling, ‘Police, stop!’
“Calata stated ‘Fuck it,’ and accelerated in an attempt to flee, driving towards the police officers,” the statement says. “Black stated he believed they ran over a mailbox.”
Black recalled that police fired shots as the vehicle as Calata continued to drive.
“Calata got out of the vehicle while it was still moving, and Black steered the vehicle into a pole,” the probable cause statement says. “Black then fled on foot. Black admitted to running from the police and hiding in a boat for more than an hour to avoid capture.”
Police determined Calata was the driver because the location of bullet holes in the vehicle matched his wounds, the statement says.
On Nov. 25, an autopsy by the Medical Examiner’s office determined Romrell’s cause of death was blunt-force trauma, and his manner of death was homicide.