Newark officer hit pedestrian with car, took body home: Prosecutors

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Saturday, November 27, 2021
NJ officer hit pedestrian with car, took body home: Prosecutors
Newark officer Louis Santiago was off-duty when he drifted to the northbound shoulder of the Garden State Parkway and struck Damian Z. Dymka.

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- A Newark police officer was charged with reckless vehicular homicide, prosecutors said, accusing the man of hitting a pedestrian with his personal car and briefly taking the body home, where he discussed with his mother what to do with it.

The officer, Louis Santiago of the Newark Police Department, was off-duty when his Honda Accord drifted into the northbound shoulder of the Garden State Parkway around 3 a.m. on Nov. 1, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said in a news release issued on Wednesday.

His car struck Damian Z. Dymka, 29, a nurse from Bergen County.

Neither Santiago nor the passenger in his car, Albert Guzman, both 25, called 911 or rendered aid to Dymka, the prosecutor's office said.

Instead, Santiago drove away and returned to the scene multiple times before loading the victim into the Honda and driving to the home he shared with his parents in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

The two men then discussed what to do with the body with Santiago's mother, Annette Santiago, 53, according to prosecutors.

Santiago's father, who is a lieutenant in the Newark Police Department, called 911 and reported that his son was in an accident.

When the state police arrived, they found Dymka's body in the back seat of the car. He was pronounced dead at the scene around 4 a.m., said Katherine Carter, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office, adding that he had died of blunt force trauma.

Santiago was charged on Nov. 18, surrendered to the State Police on Tuesday and was arraigned the next day, officials said.

Santiago was said to be cooperating with police.

In addition to vehicular homicide, Santiago faces charges including leaving the scene of a deadly accident, endangering an injured victim and two counts of official misconduct.

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