LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Two former Torrance police officers were charged today with vandalism and conspiracy to commit a crime involving a swastika that was spray-painted inside an impounded vehicle last year.
Christopher Tomsic, 29, and Cody Weldin, 28, pleaded not guilty Thursday to one felony count each of vandalism and conspiracy to commit vandalism.
The two were among a group of officers who responded to a Jan. 27, 2020, call about three men who had stolen mail from an apartment building, and were led to a vehicle that may have been used in the crime and was subsequently taken to a tow yard, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
The vehicle's owner subsequently found that a swastika symbol had been spray-painted on the rear seat and a happy face had been spray-painted on the front passenger seat, according to the District Attorney's Office.
“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.''
District Attorney George Gascon said his office will be reviewing hundreds of cases involving the two officers to ensure no other alleged misconduct occurred.
The county's top prosecutor vowed that his office is “committed to uprooting discrimination within the law enforcement ranks to preserve the integrity of the criminal legal system.''
A date is scheduled to be set Oct. 4 for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to allow the case against the two to proceed to trial.
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