TORRANCE, Calif. — Two former police officers were charged in California on Thursday for allegedly vandalizing a suspect’s vehicle that was found with a swastika spray-painted on a seat.
L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón says former Torrance Police Department officers Christopher Tomsic, 29, and Cody Weldin, 28, have been charged with conspiracy to commit vandalism and vandalism.
The district attorney’s office says Tomsic and Weldin were among a group of officers who responded to a call on Jan. 27, 2020, about three men who had allegedly stolen mail from an apartment building.
At the scene, the officers were led to a vehicle that may have been used in the alleged crime, the DA’s office says.
Prosecutors say Tomsic and Weldin had the vehicle taken away to a tow yard and when the owner arrived to pick up the car, he found a “happy face” had been spray-painted on the front passenger seat and a swastika symbol was on a rear seat. Other items had also reportedly 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 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.”
The case was filed for a warrant on Thursday. Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges and are set to return to court on Oct. 4 for a preliminary hearing, according to the DA’s office.
Gascón says that hundreds of cases involving the two former officers will be reviewed by his office to ensure no other alleged misconduct occurred.
“Our office is committed to uprooting discrimination within the law enforcement ranks to preserve the integrity of the criminal legal system,” Gascón said.