Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón announced on Thursday that two former Torrance police officers have been charged with vandalism for allegedly spray-painting an impounded vehicle with a swastika.
Cody Weldin, 28, and Christopher Tomsic, 29, face felony charges of vandalism and conspiracy to commit vandalism. The two men, who left the Torrance Police Department last year, pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Torrance Police Chief Jeremiah Hart said at the joint news conference that 13 other officers have been placed on administrative leave after the investigation into Weldin and Tomic revealed that these other officers allegedly engaged in racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic messages.
The District Attorney's office has identified hundreds of other cases that the two officers were involved in and that will be reviewed for misconduct, according to a statement.
"We have seen an increase in hate crimes, not only in our own home town but around the country. And it's unacceptable," Gascón said. "But it becomes doubly unacceptable when we have the people that are sworn to protect all of us who engage in this behavior."
Hart asserted that the Torrance Police Department has a zero-tolerance policy for this type of behavior.
“Let me be clear, I will aggressively pursue any form of racism, bigotry, hate or misconduct at the Torrance Police Department," Hart said.
The Anti-Defamation League also weighed in on the alleged incident involving the two officers.
“No matter the source of hate, we must stand up and denounce it," the ADL said in a statement. "We are heartened that these officers are facing consequences for their reported hateful actions.”
First published: 08:36, 08.22.21