Suspect pleads guilty to manslaughter in death of South Salt Lake Police Officer David Romrell

Jeffrey Black, shown in a photo with police shortly after his 2018  arrest, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of South Salt Lake Police Officer David Romrell. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah, Feb. 1, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — A man who was a passenger in the car that struck and killed South Salt Lake Police Officer David Romrell has accepted a plea deal in the case.

Jeffrey Don Black, 44, pleaded guilty on Friday to manslaughter, a first-degree felony reduced to a second-degree felony as part of the deal, and to burglary, a second-degree felony.

In exchange for his guilty plea, additional charges of obstructing justice, a second-degree felony, and of failure to stop at the command of a law officer, a class A misdemeanor, were dismissed with prejudice.

According to a probable cause statement filed in the case, Black was in a car driven by Felix Calata on Nov. 24, 2018, attempting to break into a South Salt Lake apartment, when police arrived.

“Upon officer’s arrival, they encountered a black Chevrolet Impala driving toward the parking lot entrance,” says the probable cause statement filed in the case.

“The officers exited their vehicles, leaving their emergency lights on, loudly identified themselves as police officers, and yelled at the driver to stop.

“The driver accelerated toward Officer David Romrell before striking him and dragging him several feet. Officer Romrell later died from his injuries.”

Officer David Romrell. Photo: GoFundMe

Black and Calata fled in the vehicle, the statement says.

A post-Miranda statement from Black says police fired bullets at the vehicle, and driver Calata fled the moving car, so Black steered it into a pole. Black then fled the vehicle, and he was found about an hour later, hiding in a boat.

Calata later died at the hospital from bullet wounds matching those on the car, the statement says.

An autopsy confirmed that Romrell died from blunt force trauma.

Black’s sentencing is scheduled for April 6. Second-degree felonies can result in a prison term of one to 15 years.

Jeffrey Black, shown in a photo with police shortly after his 2018 arrest, has pleaded guilty to homicide in the death of South Salt Lake Police Officer David Romrell. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

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