Former Torrance cops charged with spray painting swastika on car

Two former Torrance cops were charged with spray painting a swastika inside a resident’s car, and prosecutors are now reviewing hundreds of cases involving the former cops to see if their alleged actions could jeopardize any arrests or conviction, authorities said.

Former officers Cody Weldin, 28, and Christopher Tomsic, 29, were charged with conspiracy and vandalism in connection with the January 2020 incident, prosecutors announced Thursday afternoon. The two men pleaded not guilty during a brief appearance in a downtown courtroom, authorities said.

According to a press release issued by the district attorney’s office, Weldin and Tomsic were part of a group of officers who responded to a report of mail theft in January 2020. A car that was potentially involved in the alleged crime was towed of the scene. prosecutors said.

The two officers allegedly spray-painted a swastika on the back seat of the vehicle and a happy face on the front passenger seat, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday. Prosecutors also alleged that the couple falsified a document presented to the California Highway Patrol as part of their investigation by failing to include information about the vandalism in the report.

The case was the result of an internal investigation by the Torrance Police Department, which referred the case to the district attorney’s office in April 2020. Sgt. Mark Ponegalek, a Torrance police spokesman, said Weldin left the department in July 2020 after serving as a city police officer for just over four years. Tomsic, who was hired in August 2015, left the department in September of last year.

Ponegalek said the Torrance city attorney’s office had ordered him not to disclose whether the officers were fired or resigned.

“Immediately after learning of the reprehensible allegations in 2020, the Torrance Police Department opened a criminal investigation and the officers were placed on leave,” Ponegalek said in a statement.

An attorney for Weldin declined to comment. Tomsic’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday afternoon.

The district attorney’s office is also reviewing hundreds of cases involving officers “to ensure that no other alleged misconduct occurred” and to determine whether the alleged act of bias could affect any cases in which Tomsic and Weldin were the officers who arrested or were called as witnesses, officials said.

Ponegalek said the case was presented to prosecutors as a hate crime. However, in the case there was no improvement for hate crime, according to the criminal complaint. While Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascon has largely abandoned the use of sentencing enhancements, bias crimes are one of the few crimes for which prosecutors can still seek additional penalties.

Tomsic was received a medal in 2017 for helping save the life of a three-month-old baby that he had stopped breathing inside the Del Amo Mall. But the officer has also been linked to two deaths while on duty.

In 2017, Tomsic was one of several officers involved in the fatal shooting of a man at the end of a car chase, court records show. Police said the suspect, Michael Lopez, was trying to ram the officers when they opened fire. The district attorney’s office refused to press charges against Tomsic in 2019.

Tomsic was also among a group of officers involved in a deadly fight with a knife-wielding suspect, Deautry Ross, at the Del Amo mall in 2018.

Officers used a Taser pistol and physical force to try to subdue Ross, who had allegedly tried to grab an officer’s gun during the fight. Ross died in an area hospital shortly after the confrontation and an autopsy found that he died of a heart attack due to a combination of methamphetamine poisoning and “fighting with officers.”

Prosecutors decided the officers used reasonable force and declined to press charges in that case last year.

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