Two California Police Officers Charged, 13 More Suspended, Over Antisemitic Vandalism and Bigoted Messages
Two former police officers in Torrance, California, a city located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, are facing vandalism charges for spray-painting a Nazi swastika on the back of a car they impounded, while more than a dozen officers in the same department have been placed on leave for sharing racist, antisemitic and homophobic messages.
The charges against 29-year-old Christopher Tomsic and 28-year-old Cody Weld were announced by Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon on Friday.
Gascon said the charges against the two men stemmed from their presence 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. The two officers impounded a vehicle that may have been used in the alleged crime. When the vehicle’s owner retrieved it from a tow yard, he found a happy face had been spray painted on the front passenger seat, and a swastika had been spray painted on the rear seat.
Gascon said his office would review hundreds of cases involving the two officers for any signs of misconduct, emphasizing in a statement that it was “committed to uprooting discrimination within the law enforcement ranks to preserve the integrity of the criminal legal system.”
The investigation into Tomsic and Weld revealed that 13 other Torrance police officers, who have been placed on administrative leave, had allegedly shared racist, homophobic and antisemitic messages, according to CBS Los Angeles.
Torrance Mayor Pat Furey told the broadcaster it was”sickening” that anyone would engage in such behavior, but especially so for a sworn police officer.
The Anti-Defamation League praised the decision to bring charges against Tomsic and Weld.
“No matter the source of hate, we must stand up and denounce it,” the ADL’s Los Angeles office said in a statement. “We are heartened that these officers are facing consequences for their reported hateful actions.”
The head of the police department in Torrance meanwhile declared that he would not tolerate any form of hatred.
“Let me be clear, I will aggressively pursue any form of racism, bigotry, hate or misconduct at the Torrance Police Department,” Torrance Police Chief Jeremiah Hart said on Thursday.