An off-duty New Jersey cop and his mother were charged after he fatally struck a pedestrian with his car then took the body back to his house, officials say

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Marlon priest, a US Air Force veteran, pleaded guilty to two counts of impersonating a federal law enforcement officer. Getty Images
  • A New Jersey officer has been charged with reckless vehicular homicide after hitting a pedestrian, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said.
  • Louis Santiago took the body back to his house after the collision, before later returning it to the scene.
  • Santiago’s passenger and mother also face charges tied to the incident.

An off-duty New Jersey police officer has been charged with reckless vehicular homicide after allegedly fatally striking a pedestrian while driving off-duty.

Louis Santiago, 25, of the Newark Police Department, struck Damian Z. Dymka, 29, early in the morning on November 1 on the Garden State Parkway, according to a release from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office issued on Wednesday.

According to the prosecutor’s office, after striking Dymka, Santiago fled the scene only to return to put the body in his car and drive somewhere they discussed the situation with his mother, Annette Santiago. A preliminary investigation found that Santiago failed to “maintain his lane and traveled on the right shoulder” of the parkway where he hit Dymka. Santiago had a passenger in the car, Albert Guzman.

Neither Santiago nor his passenger called 911 nor administered aid, the prosecutor’s office said in its statement. 

According to the release, Santiago eventually returned the body to the scene, where it was found in the back seat by New Jersey State Police.

Santiago’s father, a lieutenant in the Newark Police Department, was the one who called 911 to report his son had been involved in an accident.

According to the release, Louis Santiago has been charged with leaving the scene of a crash resulting in death, desecrating human remains, conspiracy to hinder prosecution, and other related charges in addition to the reckless vehicular homicide charge.

Santiago’s mother, as well as the passenger, have been charged with conspiracy to desecrate human remains, hindering apprehension, and conspiracy to hinder apprehension and tamper with physical evidence.