Man formally charged in connection with South Salt Lake officer’s death

SALT LAKE CITY — A man has been formally charged with murder, a first-degree felony, in connection with the November 24 death of South Salt Lake Officer David Romrell.

Jeffrey Don Black, 43, also faces felony charges of robbery, burglary and obstruction of justice, along with a misdemeanor charge of failure to stop at the command of a law enforcement officer.

A document filed in 3rd District Court Thursday morning alleges Black was a passenger in the car that struck Romrell, who was investigating a report of a burglary at 3575 S West Temple in South Salt Lake. An autopsy revealed Romrell died of blunt force trauma and the manner of his death was homicide.

“Our sympathies go out to the family of Officer Romrell, and all of the South Salt Lake Police Department,” Salt Lake County DA Sim Gill stated regarding the case. “The loss of Officer Romrell is a reminder of the dangerous and selfless work our police officers do every day.”

According to the document, Black told a detective he assisted Felix Calata in an attempt to force entry into a South Salt Lake building in order to take money from a woman.

“[Black] stated that they were unable to gain entry and that he told Calata it was taking too long. They were going to leave when he saw the police officers’ vehicles with their red and blue lights activated,” the document states. “[Black] stated he heard the police officers yelling, ‘Police Stop!’ [and] Calata stated ‘F— it”, and accelerated in an attempt to flee, driving toward the police officers.”

According to Unified Police, the vehicle struck Romrell and dragged him several feet.

Calata got out of the vehicle while it was still moving, the document states, and Black steered the vehicle into a pole.

At some point, police fired shots at Calata, who was pronounced dead at a hospital from gunshot wounds. According to police, Black admitted to running from the scene and hiding in a boat for over an hour to avoid capture.

Police detained and interviewed Black but later released him. He was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail on November 26 after speaking with a Unified Police detective.