A Newark cop was allegedly drunk and on his cellphone when he fatally struck a nurse with his car and then drove the body to his parents’ house, according to court documents.
Louis Santiago, 25 years old, of Bloomfield was charged for reckless vehicular killing, desecration of human remains, DWI, and other offences after he hit Damian Dymka of Garfield at the Garden State Parkway shoulder around 3 a.m. on Nov. 1. Authorities said.
The off-duty officer loaded the nurse’s body into his car and drove to his parents’ Bloomfield home, where his mother, Annette Santiago, 53, allegedly told him to return the body to “where you hit it,” NJ.com reported, citing an affidavit of probable cause.
Santiago’s attorney, Patrick Toscano, said Dymka was wearing a werewolf Halloween costume and walking on a darkened stretch of highway when he was struck.
Santiago confessed to having been drunk at a bar in the area, but not enough to cause impairment or impaired. The cop also stated that Dymka had survived the hit and that Dymka was transported to his vehicle to seek help.
“This was a horrible, horrible accident,” Toscano told NJ Advance Media on Monday. “But our client did not see him. At first, he thought he had hit an animal or a deer. Then when he realized it was a man, he tried to get him help.”
The lawyer did not say why his client didn’t just call 911 for help.
NJ.com reported that Santiago had also deleted texts messages and other evidence from his phone prior to turning it over the State Police.
“(They) never called 911 or rendered aid, but returned to the scene multiple times before (Santiago) loaded Vic in the backseat,” the affidavit states, referring to the officer and his passenger, Albert Guzman, 25, of Newark.
Toscano claimed that there is no evidence from investigators that Toscano’s client deleted anything, or was texting or talking during the accident.
Santiago’s father, a Newark police lieutenant, called State Police to tell them his son had hurt someone in an accident, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said last week.
The suspect discussed changing his clothes after the accident and said, “my f—- shirt has blood on it,” according to the affidavit.
Santiago’s mother and Guzman have been charged with conspiracy to desecrate human remains, hindering apprehension and conspiracy to hinder apprehension and tamper with physical evidence.
The officer also faces charges of leaving the scene of a crash resulting in death, endangering an injured victim, hindering one’s own apprehension, conspiracy to hinder prosecution, tampering with physical evidence, obstructing the administration of law and official misconduct.