A New Jersey police officer has been charged with driving homicide and desecration of human remains after allegedly punching and killing a man on the Garden State Parkway on November 1 in the town of Bloomfield and leaving the scene with the body in his car, the Essex County prosecutor’s office announced on Wednesday.
The officer, Louis Santiago, 25, of Bloomfield, was driving on the shoulder of the Parkway heading north around 3 a.m. when he allegedly collided with Damian Dymka, 29. Authorities said that after colliding with Dymka, Santiago and his passenger, Albert Guzman, 25, left the scene, before returning several times before loading the victim into the car. Neither of them called 911 or attempted to rescue the victim, authorities said.
“Santiago then took the body to his home in Bloomfield where he, his mother and Guzman reportedly discussed what to do with the body,” the prosecutor’s office said.
The body was eventually returned to the scene, authorities said. Santiago’s father, a Newark police lieutenant, called police to report his son was 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, mother of Louis Santiago, and Guzman have both been charged with conspiracy to desecrate human remains, obstruction of apprehension, and conspiracy to obstruct apprehension and tampering with material evidence. In addition to manslaughter and driving and desecration of human remains, Santiago has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, endangering an injured victim, desecrating / displacing human remains, obstructing his own apprehension, conspiracy to obstruct prosecution, tampering with material evidence, obstruction of the administration of the law and two counts of official misconduct.
Louis Santiago, who joined the Newark Police Department in 2019, was suspended without pay on November 1, officials said.
All three have been released on conditions, the prosecutor’s office said.
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