Two former officers with the Torrance Police Department have been charged with vandalizing a vehicle that was spray-painted with a swastika last year, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced Thursday.
Christopher Tomsic, 29, and Cody Weldin, 28, were each charged with two felony counts, one for vandalism and another for conspiracy to commit vandalism.
Both men pleaded not guilty Thursday and are set to return for a preliminary hearing at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center in downtown L.A. on Oct. 4.
The car in question was tied to a reported mail theft in January 2020, and it was taken to a tow yard. When the defendants in the mail theft case came to pick up their car, they discovered the swastika painted on the car’s rear seat, as well as a happy face painted on the front seat, which the officers are accused of painting.
“Immediately upon learning of the reprehensible allegations in 2020, the Torrance Police Department opened a criminal investigation and the officers were put on leave,” Torrance police Sgt. Mark Ponegalek said in a statement. “The criminal case was delivered to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in April of 2020 with a recommendation that criminal charges be filed. The defendants do not work for the Torrance Police Department and we are cooperating to the fullest extent with prosecutors.”
Hundreds of cases involving the two officers will be reviewed for other potential alleged misconduct, Gascón added, and any potential new misdemeanor crimes would be referred to the Torrance City Attorney.
“Our office is committed to uprooting discrimination within the law enforcement ranks to preserve the integrity of the criminal legal system,” Gascón said.