Off-Duty Cop Fatally Struck Pedestrian, Took Body Home to Mother for Advice: Prosecutor

An off-duty police officer in New Jersey is accused of fatally striking a pedestrian with his car and then taking the body to his mother's home for advice.

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II announced the charges filed against 25-year-old Newark Police Officer Louis Santiago on Wednesday.

According to a press release from the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, the incident occurred on November 1, at around 3 a.m. while Santiago was driving his 2005 Honda Accord on the Garden State Parkway near exit 151.

While driving, Santiago "failed to maintain his lane and traveled on the right shoulder of the Garden State Parkway," and fatally struck a pedestrian. The victims was identified as 29-year-old Damian Z. Dymka. The Essex County Prosecutor's Office said that Dymka was a nurse from Bergen County in New Jersey.

The press release said that after striking the victim, Santiago and a passenger in his vehicle, identified as 25-year-old Albert Guzman, allegedly declined to call 911 for assistance or render aid to the victim. Both Santiago and Guzman allegedly returned to the scene of the crime "multiple times" before Santiago removed Dymka from the scene by placing him in the back seat of his car.

"Santiago then took the body to his home in Bloomfield where he, his mother and Guzman allegedly discussed what to do with the body," the press release said. "Eventually, Santiago went back to the scene."

The Essex County Prosecutor's Office said that Santiago's father, who is a Newark Police Department lieutenant, eventually called 911 and reported that his son was involved in a car accident. When officials with the New Jersey State Police arrived to Santiago's home, they discovered Dymka deceased in the back seat of his car.

Santiago was eventually arrested and charged with numerous crimes, including reckless vehicular homicide, desecrating/moving human remains, leaving the scene of a crash resulting in death, endangering an injured victim, hindering one's own apprehension, conspiracy to hinder prosecution, tampering with physical evidence, obstruction the administration of law and two counts of official misconduct, according to the press release.

Santiago's mother, 53-year-old Annette Santiago and Guzman were also charged in the crime. They were both charged with conspiracy to desecrate human remains, hindering apprehension, conspiracy to hinder apprehension and tampering with physical evidence.

"All three defendants have been arrested, charged, and released with conditions," the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said.

It is unclear if Santiago is still employed by the Newark Police Department.

Newsweek was directed to the press release after reaching out to the Essex County Prosector's Office for further comment.

Newark Police
An off-duty Newark Police officer is accused of fatally striking a pedestrian and bringing the body to his mother for advice. Above, a view outside Prudential Center on December 18, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. Noam Galai/Getty