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Off-duty N.J. officer fatally struck pedestrian, put body in car, prosecutor says

Louis Santiago allegedly hit the man, put the victim in his car, went home and discussed what to do, then returned to the scene.

A New Jersey police officer is accused of fatally striking a pedestrian, taking the man's body home to discuss what to do, and then returning to the scene with the dead man in his back seat, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Newark officer Louis Santiago, 25, his passenger, and his mother are charged in the Nov. 1 incident, acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens II said in a written statement.

Santiago, who was off-duty, allegedly struck Damian Dymka, a 29-year-old nurse, while he was walking around 3 a.m. on the shoulder of the Garden State Parkway.

Neither Santiago nor his passenger, Albert Guzman, called 911 or rendered aid to Dymka after he was struck, the prosecutor’s office said.

They reportedly went back to the scene multiple times before they put Dymka into the Honda Accord. They then went to Santiago's home, where he, Guzman and Santiago's mother, Annette Santiago, discussed what to do, Stephens' office said.

Louis Santiago eventually went back to the scene, and his father, who is a Newark police lieutenant, called 911, officials said.

New Jersey State Police arrived and found Dymka dead in the back seat, the prosecutor's office said.

Louis Santiago is charged with reckless vehicular homicide, desecrating human remains, tampering with physical evidence and other charges that include official misconduct, officials said.

Guzman, 25, and Annette Santiago, 53, are charged with counts that include conspiracy to desecrate human remains and hindering apprehension, according to the prosecutor's office.

All three were arrested and released with conditions, the prosecutor’s office said.

It was not immediately clear late Wednesday if they had attorneys, and a phone number for them could not immediately be found Wednesday night.

Newark police declined to comment early Thursday, referring all questions to the Essex County prosecutor’s office.