Off-duty New Jersey cop accused of fatally striking man with car and taking body home

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BERGEN, N.J. — A New Jersey police officer was charged with vehicular homicide and desecrating human remains after he allegedly struck and killed a man on the Garden State Parkway on Nov. 1 in the city of Bloomfield and left the scene with the body in his car, the Essex County Prosecutor's office said Wednesday.

The officer, 25-year-old Louis Santiago, from Bloomfield, was driving on the shoulder of the Parkway going north around 3 a.m. when he allegedly struck Damian Dymka, 29. Authorities said that after hitting Dymka, Santiago and his passenger, Albert Guzman, 25, left the scene, before returning multiple times before loading the victim into the car. Neither called 911 or attempted to render aid to the victim, authorities said.

"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 prosecutor's office stated.

The body was eventually returned to the scene, authorities said. Santiago's father, a Newark police lieutenant, called police to report that his son had been in an accident, authorities said.

When New Jersey State Police arrived, authorities said, Dymka's body was found in the back seat of Santiago's car.

Annette Santiago, Louis Santiago's mother, and Guzman were both charged with conspiracy to desecrate human remains, hindering apprehension, and conspiracy to hinder apprehension and tamper with physical evidence. In addition to reckless vehicular homicide and desecrating human remains, Santiago was charged with leaving the scene of 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.

Louis Santiago, who joined the Newark Police Department in 2019, was suspended without pay on Nov. 1, officials said.

All three have been released with conditions, the prosecutor's office said.

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This article originally appeared on NJ police officer killed man with car, took the body home, police say