UPDATE March 15, 2023: The city of Torrance has paid $750,000 to the owner of an impounded car that allegedly was spray-painted by police with a swastika in 2020. The payment settles a $6 million federal lawsuit by car owner Kiley Swaine, who did not learn of the involvement of two former Torrance police officers until nearly two years after the damage to his 2004 Hyundai Elantra; more here.
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The two former officers – 29-year-old Christopher Tomsic and 28-year-old Cody Weldin – are being charged with felony vandalism and conspiracy to commit vandalism in connection to a vehicle Torrance PD had impounded. Following a series of investigations, at least a dozen more officers are accused of exchanging racist, discriminatory, homophobic and/or anti-semitic messages. Now, hundreds of cases involving the officers are being looked at, Gascón said.
Gascón said during Thursday’s press conference that the officers’ allegations “put a blemish on the entire criminal legal system.”
Torrance Police Chief Jeremiah Hart vowed to hold the ex-officers accountable.
“Let me be clear. I will aggressively pursue any form of bigotry, hate and misconduct,” Hart said.
According to Hart, the allegations took place in January of 2020, prompting an administrative investigation in March of that year. Hart said at least a dozen officers, including Welding and Tomsic from the department in March of 2020.
Rabbi Leah Lewis of Temple Menorah said the allegations are upsetting to community members, particularly within the Jewish community.
“Fear is the first thing that comes to mind and sadness that there’s hatred that comes from antisemitism and knowing and watching the story that it’s not just antisemitism but hatred of all forms. As Rabbi and as a resident of Torrance, it makes me extremely sad,” said Lewis.