SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah -- Why wasn’t Felix Calata in jail?
Calata is the man who was behind the wheel of the car that struck and killed South Salt Lake Police Officer David Romrell on Saturday night. Calata and accomplice Jeffrey Black were fleeing police who were responding to a burglary call.
Since the moment Calata was identified as the driver who killed Officer Romrell, questions have been raised about why Calata was not already in prison. He was already under investigation for vehicular manslaughter for a crash eight months prior in Salt Lake City.
“It hurts that she never got a chance to meet my son,” said Ashlie Tom. Ashlie’s mother was in Calata’s car on March 25, when investigators say he ran a red light at the intersection of Bangerter Highway and California Avenue. Her mother was killed, Calata was severely injured as was another driver. Eight months later, Calata had still not been charged.
Both the Department of Public Safety and the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office say it is normal for investigations of this nature to take a long time. On Nov. 23, the day before Calata hit and killed Officer Romrell, investigators submitted some of the final documents on the March crash investigation. Dec. 6 was the date set to screen charges. It will no longer happen. Calata was shot and killed by police after he hit Romrell.
Below is a timeline of key dates in Calata’s case:
March 25th: Calata is the driver at fault in a violent crash. His passenger, Danyelle Jennings is killed. Another driver is severely injured.
June 20th: Investigators have a meeting scheduled with prosecutors to screen charges against Calata, likely including vehicular manslaughter. The D.A.’s office asks investigators to complete the accident reconstruction prior to screening charges.
August 16th: Calata is arrested on an unrelated warrant and jailed.
September 12th: A new screening date for charges against Calata is scheduled. It is canceled due to scheduling conflicts.
Mid-October: Calata is released from the Salt Lake County jail.
October 24th: Investigators and prosecutors meet to screen charges against Calata. The D.A.’s office asks investigators to complete a few more details, including information from UDOT on what the traffic signals were showing at the time of the crash.
November 16th: A new screening date is set for December 6th.
November 23rd: Final details, including information from UDOT on the traffic signals, is submitted to the D.A.’s office.
November 24th: Calata hits and kills Officer David Romrell.
The Department of Public Safety has given a more detailed timeline of their investigation. You can read it here.