Louis Santiago was charged with his role in a hit-and-run that took place Nov. 1. The Newark police officer is facing multiple charges after he allegedly killed 29-year-old Damian Dymka in a car accident and then took the body home.
Santiago’s charges include reckless vehicular homicide, desecrating/moving human remains, leaving the scene of a crash resulting in death, endangering an injured victim, and tampering with physical evidence. He is also charged with two counts of misconduct, hindering one’s own apprehension, conspiracy to hinder one’s own apprehension, and obstructing the law.
His mother, Annette Santiago, and his friend, Albert Guzman, are also being charged with desecrating remains and hindering apprehension. All three suspects were arrested and then released on certain conditions.
Louis Santiago’s lawyer, Patrick Toscano, said that the charges against his client are unfounded. He said, “Officer Santiago was charged with over a dozen crimes, most of which are unfounded … there truly was no intentional or reckless homicidal act committed by Officer Santiago at any time.”
According to court records, Louis Santiago was driving on the Garden State Parkway at 3 a.m. Nov 1. He drove onto the shoulder of the road and allegedly hit pedestrian Damian Dymka, a nurse from Bergen County. The accident happened near Exit 151. The Newark Police officer was off duty at the time of the crash.
A tribute to Dymka was posted on Facebook after his tragic death. The heartfelt message was posted by his friend, Mike Schiotis. He said, “Words will never describe how much of a light you were in all of our lives. Damian Ziggy Dymka was one of the most gentle-hearted and compassionate human beings to ever walk this earth. Thank you for countless laughs and memories. We will always keep your memory alive.”
Prosecutors allege that Santiago never called 911 or did anything to help the victim. Instead, the two men returned to the scene many times before putting Dymka’s body into the car and taking it home to Bloomfield, N.J.
“[The suspects] returned to the scene multiple times before Santiago loaded the victim into the Honda and removed him from the scene. Santiago then took the body to his home in Bloomfield where he, his mother and Guzman allegedly discussed what to do with the body,” said the prosecutor.
After talking to his mother and Guzman, Louis Santiago took the body back to the scene of the crime. His father, who is a lieutenant with the Newark Police force, called 911 and told dispatchers that his son had been in a car accident.
When State police officers arrived on the scene, they found the body in the backseat of Santiago’s 2005 Honda Accord. They pronounced Dymka dead on the scene at around 4 a.m. The prosecutor’s office later said that the victim died of blunt force trauma.
Louis Santiago was charged on Nov. 18 after he surrendered to State Police. According to reports, he cooperated with officers. The young man was a member of the Newark Police force since 2019 and was suspended Nov. 1 without pay.
All three suspects are waiting for their court hearings. It is unclear if Annette Santiago has a lawyer.