Prosecutors will not file charges against the South Salt Lake officer who fired at two men inside a car used to run over and kill a fellow officer in November.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill wrote in a letter to Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera and South Salt Lake Police Chief Jack Carruth that his office wouldn’t be filing charges against the officer.
Gill said the shooting was legally justified because evidence indicates Officer Carson Aprato used deadly force because he believed it was necessary to prevent death or serious injury of himself or another, in this case Officer David Romrell.
“Officer Aprato’s belief that the driver threatened death or serious bodily injury to Romrell was reasonable in light of the objective evidence of which we’re aware, and, unfortunately, was borne out in the events that immediately followed during which Officer Romrell was hit, run over, and killed by the driver," Gill wrote.
Aprato and Romrell were dispatched on the evening of Nov. 24 to a reported burglary at 3575 S. West Temple.
When the officers arrived, they found Felix Anthony Calata, 31, behind the wheel of a vehicle in the parking lot, and Jeffery Black, 43, in the passenger seat.
Police believed the men were the burglars and held them at gunpoint, ordering them to get out the car. They did not. Instead, Gill wrote, Calata drove the car toward Romrell.
Both officers fired at the vehicle, but it ran over and killed Romrell.
Calata was killed by police gunfire, and Black was injured when the vehicle subsequently crashed.
In an interview with prosecutors, Aprato told investigators that after police yelled commands at Calata, the man started driving multiple directions “as though the driver couldn’t decide what to do.”
Aprato said Calata hit a planter in the parking lot, and then drove at Romrell “at a high rate of speed.” Aprato noted that neither he nor Romrell were blocking the parking lot exit.
As the car sped toward Romrell, Aprato said Romrell fired, and Aprato did the same. Aprato kept shooting after Romrell was hit, firing 18 rounds in all, according to the letter.
Gill added that had Romrell survived, his office would not have filed charges against him either.
Black, the passenger in the vehicle, recovered. He is being held without bail in Salt Lake County jail on charges of first-degree felony murder, second-degree felony robbery and obstructing justice and third-degree felony burglary.