Despite being a fully certified police officer and coming from a family of cops, Louis Santiago evidently had no clue what to do after striking a pedestrian on the side of the road in the early hours of November 1.
The off-duty Newark cop first fled the scene rather than stop and render aid to the victim, a 29-year-old nurse named Damian Z. Dymka, who was dressed as a werewolf after having celebrated Halloween hours earlier.
But Santiago returned to the scene several times afterwards with his passenger, Albert Guzman, until eventually lifting the victim’s body in the back seat of his 2005 Honda Accord and driving it to the home he shared with his parents, according to a press release from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.
The body remained in the back seat of the car while Santiago and Guzman discussed with Santiago’s mother inside the house what to do with the body. Santiago eventually drove back to the scene with the body still in the back seat of the Honda.
Meanwhile, Santiago’s father, Luis Santiago, a lieutenant with the Newark Police Department, called 911 to report his son had been in an accident, according to the press release.
New Jersey state police arrived and found the body in the back seat of Santiago’s car but it took nearly three weeks before charges were filed on November 18.
In fact, New Jersey state police initially reported to the media that the driver who killed Dymka had remained at the scene and cooperated with police, making no mention of his name or the fact he was a cop.
Charges against Santiago include reckless vehicular homicide, desecrating human remains, leaving the scene of a deadly accident, endangering an injured victim and two counts of official misconduct.
Guzman and Annette Santiago face charges of hindering apprehension, conspiracy to desecrate human remains and tampering with physical evidence.
Luis Santiago, the father who has spent 18 years with the Newark Police Department, will not be facing charges, the prosecutor’s office said.