A former Newark officer and his father were both sentenced on Wednesday for their involvement in the death of a New Jersey nurse who was killed by a car while walking along the Garden State Parkway.
The victim’s family decided to forgive the perpetrators.
Luis Santiago, 26 apologized to the parents of Damian Dymka, 29, for the death of their son.
“I am sorry, I know that nothing I can say will help ease your suffering.” Santiago replied, “I didn’t intend for this to happen.”
Andrzej Dmka replied by asking for accountability from the judge but also expressed compassion.
“I forgive because accidents can happen to anyone.” “But after an accident, you grab your cellphone, dial 911… and say ‘Please Help’,” he said.
The prosecution says that it was around 3 am on November 1, 2021, when Damian Dymka walked on the shoulder near Exit 150 in Bloomfield. Santiago was drinking in a bar before he got behind the wheel of his cousin’s car, which was also a passenger when he struck Damian Dymka.
Adam Wells, Assistant prosecutor for Essex County, said: “If the incident had ended with the call to 911 and a response from the police, we probably would still be here today but in very different circumstances.” “There was no consideration for the human dignity of the young boy who was dying on the street.” “There was only concern about protecting himself and covering up his wrongdoing.”
Santiago was heard by the court to have panicked instead of dialing 911. The court heard that Santiago and his cousin placed Damian Dymka’s body in the back of the car, left the scene, and then brought it later.
Documents in court show that Santiago told his father, also named Luis Santiago and a lieutenant, that he might have struck someone.
As soon as he learned of the accident, he said to his son: “You must return to the scene.” “You can’t leave the scene of an accident,” defense attorney Frank Arleo stated.
Prosecutors claim that his father went first to the crime scene, and then reported it. He was indicted by a grand jury on charges including hindering prosecution through false information given to police.
On Wednesday, Lieutenant Santiago was sentenced by the court to two years probation.
The sentence for his son, Officer Santiago who had been previously indicted in 16 charges was five years.
The cousin of the accused was put in pretrial intervention.
Prosecutors claim that a plea bargain was reached in part to spare the family of the victim the agony of a court trial. Damian Dymka’s father stated that everyone has suffered enough.
“Pray for them. Wish them good luck. And I hope this boy will be back to society like a completely different person,” Andrzej Dymka said. “Whatever the sentence … my pain is still the same. I have only one son, only Damian.”