NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A Newark police officer fatally struck a man walking on a highway shoulder then drove around with the man’s body and visited his mother looking for advice, according to charges released Wednesday.
Officer Louis Santiago faces multiple charges in the death of 29-year-old Damian Dymka on Nov. 1 including vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a crash resulting in death, desecrating or moving human remains, tampering with physical evidence, obstruction and official misconduct.
Santiago’s mother, Annette Santiago, and Albert Guzman, a passenger in Louis Santiago’s car, were charged with desecrating human remains, hindering apprehension and conspiracy to hinder apprehension and tamper with physical evidence.
According to prosecutors, Santiago and Guzman, both 25, were driving in a 2005 Honda Accord on the Garden State Parkway early on the morning of Nov. 1 when Santiago, who was off-duty at the time, struck Dymka, who was walking on the highway’s shoulder.
Instead of calling 911, the pair allegedly left the scene but returned and put Dymka in the car, then went to Annette Guzman’s house in Bloomfield to discuss what to do. They allegedly returned to the accident scene with Dymka, a Garfield resident who worked as a nurse.
According to the prosecutor’s office, Santiago’s father, a lieutenant in the Newark police department, called 911 to report the accident. Dymka had died by the time state police arrived at the scene.
The three defendants have been released pending initial court appearances, according to the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking information on whether any of the three had retained attorneys who could comment on the charges.
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