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Prosecutor: New Jersey police officer accused of hitting, killing man walking before taking the body home

The Essex County prosecutor said the officer left his lane and hit the man in the shoulder lane.
Credit: Essex County Prosecutor's Office
Louis Santiago, New Jersey police officer facing charges

NEWARK, N.J. — A Newark, N. J., police officer is facing multiple charges including vehicular manslaughter after the Essex County prosecutor, Theodore N. Stephens, II, announced in a news release that the officer is accused of hitting a man with his car, then taking the body home before returning to the crash site.

Newark police officer, Louis Santiago, 25, and the passenger in the car, Albert Guzman, 25, are facing multiple charges, according to authorities. In addition, Santiago's mother, Annette Santiago, is also facing charges in connection to the deadly crash.

According to investigators, at around 3 a.m., on Nov. 1, Louis Santiago was off duty, driving northbound on Garden State Parkway with Guzman in the passenger seat. Near exit 151, the press release states, Louis Santiago drove out of his lane into the right shoulder and hit Damian Dymka. Officials say the 29-year-old nurse was walking in the shoulder lane when he was struck and killed.

According to the release from the prosecutor's office, Louis Santiago and Guzman allegedly never called 911 after the crash, nor did they attempt to help Dymka. Instead, officials say the two are accused of returning to the crash site multiple times before Louis Santiago loaded the man's body into the Honda Accord he was driving and removed his remains from the scene. 

That's when Louis Santiago took the body to his house in Bloomfield, N.J., where he, his mother, Annette Santiago, 53, and Guzman "discussed what to do with the body," according to the release. After the conversation, officials report Louis Santiago went back to the area of the initial crash. 

Louis Santiago's father also works for the Newark Police Department as a lieutenant, according to the Essex County prosecutor's office. "His dad called 911 and reported that his son was involved in an accident," Prosecutor Stephens said in the news release. 

New Jersey State Police responded to the scene to find Louis Santiago. Police also discovered Dymka's body in the backseat of the Honda Accord. 

Louis Santiago has been charged with reckless vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a crash resulting in death, endangering an injured victim, desecrating/moving human remains, hindering one's own apprehension, conspiracy to hinder prosecution, tampering with physical evidence, obstructing the administration of law and two counts of official misconduct. 

Guzman, the passenger, and Louis Santiago's mother, Annette, have both been charged with conspiracy to desecrate human remains, hindering apprehension and conspiracy to hinder apprehension and tamper with physical evidence. 

All three have been arrested, charged and released with conditions, according to the Essex County prosecutor's office.

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