Newark cop accused of killing pedestrian, moving body was driving drunk, police say

The Newark police officer accused of striking and killing on a pedestrian on the Garden State Parkway was driving drunk and using his phone when he hit the victim, police documents state.

Louis Santiago, 25, was allegedly intoxicated when he hit Damian Dymka, 29, a nurse from Garfield, who was walking on the shoulder of the road at about 3 a.m. on Nov. 1, according to the affidavit of probable cause. Santiago has been a police officer since 2019.

After striking Dymka, the affidavit said, Santiago and his passenger Albert Guzman, 25, loaded Dymka into the car and brought him to Santiago's home in Bloomfield. Santiago then informed his mother, Annette Santiago, of the situation. Santiago, his mother and Guzman allegedly discussed what to do with the body.

“Put that body back where you hit it,” Annette said, according to the affidavit of probable cause. “Put it on the floor.”

Police said that at no point did Santiago or Guzman call 911 or attempt to render aid to Dymka. Santiago's father, a Newark police lieutenant, eventually called 911 and told police that his son had been in an accident, authorities said.

According to the affidavit, Santiago, who said he had blood on his shirt, “expressed anger” that his father had informed police of the crash.

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The body was eventually returned to the scene, authorities said. When New Jersey State Police arrived, the affidavit said, Dymka's body was found in the back seat of Santiago's car.

“[Santiago] appeared intoxicated and was taken for blood testing,” police said in the affidavit.

Police also seized Santiago's cellphone and said he deleted calls and texts before it was surrendered to state police.

Annette Santiago 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.

All three have been released with conditions, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said. Santiago was suspended without pay on Nov. 1, officials said

Santiago's case will next go before a grand jury to decide on indictment, an Essex County Prosecutor's Office spokesperson said.

Staff Writer Kaitlyn Kanzler contributed to this report.

Liam Quinn is a breaking news reporter for NorthJersey.com. To get breaking news directly to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter.

Email: quinnl@northjersey.com

Twitter: @Liam_D_Quinn

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Newark NJ cop accused of drunk driving in fatal Parkway crash

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