Off-duty cop hits and kills nurse with his car, then brings body home, NJ officials say

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An off-duty cop hit and killed a nurse with his car and then brought the body home to ask his mom what to do, New Jersey prosecutors said.

Newark police officer Louis Santiago, 25, was charged with reckless vehicular homicide, desecrating human remains and other related charges after fatally striking 29-year-old Damian Dymka with his Honda Accord around 3 a.m. on Nov. 1, the Essex county prosecutor’s office said in a Nov. 24 news release.

After bringing Dymka’s body home, Santiago returned to the scene of the crash on the Garden State Parkway when state police arrived and saw Dymka dead in the back seat of the car, officials said.

Santiago’s mother, Annette Santiago, and a passenger in his car at the time, Albert Guzman, were charged with conspiracy to desecrate human remains, hindering apprehension and conspiracy to hinder apprehension and tamper with physical evidence, the release said.

An investigation revealed Louis Santiago was driving north on the parkway with Guzman when the car drifted out of the lane and into the road’s right shoulder where Dymka had been walking.

Prosecutors say Santiago and Guzman didn’t call 911 or try to help Dymka, but they did return to where the nurse was struck multiple times before Santiago loaded him into his Honda and drove home in Bloomfield.

While home, prosecutors said, Santiago and his mother discussed what to do with the victim’s body, with Santiago eventually returning back to the scene.

His father, whose name was not released and is a lieutenant in the Newark police department, then called 911 to say his son had been in an accident, leading state police to his son and Dymka’s body, according to the release.

After they were arrested and charged, Santiago, his mother and Guzman were “released with conditions.”

Santiago was suspended from the police department, his lawyer Patrick P. Toscano Jr. told The New York Times.

“We believe he has been tremendously overcharged here,” Toscano said to the newspaper. “There is maybe probable cause for two or three charges, certainly not 12 or 13.”

McClatchy News has reached out to the prosecutor’s office for further comment.

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