A Newark police officer has been charged with reckless vehicular murder after prosecutors said he hit a pedestrian with his personal car and briefly brought the body to his mother’s home to discuss what to do with it.
Newark Police Department police officer Louis Santiago was off duty Nov. 1 when his Honda Accord crashed into the north shoulder of the Garden State Parkway around 3 a.m., the Essex County Attorney’s Office said in a press release on Wednesday. . His car hit Damian Z. Dymka, 29, a nurse from Bergen County.
Neither Mr Santiago nor the passenger in his car, Albert Guzman, both 25, called 911 or provided assistance to Mr Dymka, the prosecutor’s office said. Instead, Mr. Santiago left and returned to the crime scene several times before loading the victim into the Honda and driving to his mother’s home in Bloomfield, NJ. The two men then discussed what to do with the body with Mr Santiago’s mother, Annette Santiago, 53, the prosecutor said.
Mr Santiago eventually returned to the crime scene, the prosecutor’s office said. Santiago’s father, a Newark Police Lieutenant, also called 911 to report that his son had been in an accident.
When state police arrived, they found Mr Dymka’s body in the back seat of the Honda.
Mr. Santiago, Mr. Guzman and Ms. Santiago have been arrested, charged and released on conditions, the office added.
In addition to vehicular manslaughter, Mr. Santiago has been charged with, among other things, leaving the scene of a fatal accident, endangering an injured victim and two counts of official misconduct.
Mr. Guzman and Ms. Santiago are each charged with obstructing arrest and conspiracy to desecrate human remains and tamper with physical evidence.
News of the charges was previously reported by the news site NJ.com and The New York Post.
The prosecutor’s release did not mention Santiago’s father’s name or when he called 911. There was also no mention of when Mr. Dymka died or why he had been on the side of the Garden State Parkway in the middle of the night.
The Essex County Attorney’s Office and Newark Police Department were not immediately available for comment Thursday morning.
According to the center’s website, Mr. Dymka was a nurse supervisor at the Preakness Healthcare Center in Wayne, NJ.