Accused of spray painting a swastika on a suspect’s vehicle, two former California police officers were recently charged with one felony count each of conspiracy to commit vandalism and vandalism.
On January 27, 2020, Torrance Police Officers Christopher Tomsic and Cody Weldin responded to a call concerning three men who had allegedly stolen mail from an apartment building. During the course of the investigation, the officers found a vehicle that may have been used in the alleged crime and had it towed to an impound lot.
When the vehicle’s owner arrived to pick up his car, he reportedly found that a happy face had been spray painted on the front passenger seat and a swastika symbol on the rear seat. Other items had also been strewn throughout the vehicle.
“Immediately upon learning of the reprehensible allegations in 2020, the Torrance Police Department opened a criminal investigation and the officers were put on leave,” said Torrance police Sgt. Mark Ponegalek. “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.”
On Thursday, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced that Tomsic and Weldin were charged with one felony count each of vandalism and conspiracy to commit vandalism. Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges and are set to return on October 4 for a preliminary hearing setting in Department 50 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
“Our office is committed to uprooting discrimination within the law enforcement ranks to preserve the integrity of the criminal legal system,” District Attorney Gascón stated in a press release.
Gascón added that hundreds of cases involving the two officers will be reviewed by his office to ensure no other alleged misconduct occurred. Any potential misdemeanor crimes would be turned over to the Torrance City Attorney.
The investigation into the two officers revealed that 13 other officers, now on leave, had allegedly shared racist, homophobic, and antisemitic messages. In a statement to CBS News, the Anti-Defamation League wrote, “No matter the source of hate, we must stand up and denounce it. We are heartened that these officers are facing consequences for their reported hateful actions.”