The Associated Press reports that a passenger in a car that fatally struck a police officer in Utah has been arrested. In Salt Lake City, a vehicle slammed into an officer, and the passenger is suspected of murder, burglary and other charges.
Jeffrey Don Black, 43, was arrested Monday night while he told officers he didn’t know anyone had been killed in the accident. He claimed he thought the vehicle had hit a mailbox.
The fatal accident happened on Saturday when South Salt Lake Police Officer David Romrell was struck while trying to stop a car to investigate a reported burglary. Under Utah law, accomplices in a crime are considered equally responsible for fatalities that happen during a crime. Since Black was involved in the burglary and chase that followed, he was arrested for the death of the officer. No formal charges have been filed yet.
The driver of the car, Felix Anthony Calata, 31, sped up and struck Romrell before being shot and killed by other officers. Black was caught afterward, but there was no cause to arrest him at that time and he was released. Officers later said he provided them with false information.
In official documents, police say that Calata attempted to enter a building with a crowbar, and he and Black left the scene. Black told Calata to stop when they were being chased, but he decided to accelerate to try to escape instead.
After police shot Calata, Black steered the car into a pole and ran and hid before he was found.
Black claims he only just met Calata and accompanied him to collect money he was owed. He has a history of DUI, forgery and drug charges. His attorney declined comment.
*Photo credit The Associated Press