Newark Police Officer Charged For Hitting a Nurse and Taking His Body Home

A police officer with the Newark Police Department, Louis Santiago, has been charged with killing a 29-year-old nurse with his car. Santiago, 25, was driving at the Garden State Parkway at 3 a.m. after his shift at the police department when he hit Damian Dymka on November 1, NY Times reports.

Following the hit-and-run, Santiago and friend Albert Guzman, 25, returned to the scene of the accident several times before deciding to lift the body of Dymka into his car. He took the body home in Bloomfield and then discussed with his 53-year-old mother, Annette Santiago, how to dispose of the body.

Santiago’s father is a lieutenant with the Newark Police Department, and he called 911 to report the incident as soon as he heard of the incident. New Jersey State Police officers arrived and found Dymka at the back of Santiago’s car. They confirmed that he was dead; and that he died of blunt force trauma.

Santiago was charged on November 18 and arraigned in court the following day. His lawyer, Patrick P. Toscano Jr., said he is very cooperative with the police since the incident happened.

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

“We believe he has been tremendously overcharged here,” Toscano said. “There is maybe probable cause for two or three charges, certainly not 12 or 13. Officer Santiago was charged with over a dozen crimes, most of which are unfounded. There truly was no intentional or reckless homicidal act committed by Officer Santiago at any time.”

Guzman and Annette Santiago were also arrested and charged with conspiracy to defile human remains, obstructing arrest, and conspiracy to tamper with physical evidence. Guzman is represented by Dennis Carletta, but Santiago’s mother does not have a lawyer to represent her yet. The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said Santiago’s father, Luis, will not be charged at all.

Dymka was a nursing supervisor at the Preakness Healthcare Center in Wayne, New Jersey. A GoFundMe account was created to raise funds for his burial. Toscano said Santiago’s blood sample was taken, and it was found that there was no alcohol in his blood before the crash.