Former Torrance police officer Christopher Tomsic, pictured in 2017, has pleaded not guilty to charges of vandalism and conspiracy for allegedly spray-paining a swastika on a car
Two former California police officers pleaded not guilty Thursday to spray-painting a swastika on an impounded car, and prosecutors are now in the process of reviewing hundreds of criminal cases associated with the pair.
Christopher Tomsic, 29, and Cody Weldin, 28, entered pleas to felony charges of vandalism and conspiracy to commit vandalism, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office announced.
An additional 13 officers have been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into messages expressing ‘racism and hatred,’ said Torrance Police Chief Jeremiah Hart.
‘Let me be clear. I will aggressively pursue any form of bigotry, hate and misconduct,’ Chief Hart said.
In January 2020, Tomsic and Weldin were with a group of officers with the Torrance Police Department in suburban Los Angeles who answered a report about three men stealing mail from an apartment building.
They were led to a car that was suspected of having been used in the crime, the DA’s office said in a statement.
Los Angeles County DA George Gasccon on Thursday announced charges against Tomsic and another ex-cop, Cody Weldin
The vehicle was taken to a tow yard but when the owner arrived to pick it up, he found a happy face had been spray-painted on the front passenger seat and a swastika on the rear seat, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors also alleged that the officers falsified a document submitted to the California Highway Patrol by failing to mention the vandalism.
Torrance police placed Tomsic and Weldin on leave and after investigating, recommended that criminal charges be filed.
Tomsic left the force in September 2020 after serving for five years. Weldin, a four-year veteran, left the department last July.
In 2017, Tomsic was awarded a medal for helping save the life of a three-month-old baby girl who had stopped breathing, as NBC 4 reported at the time.
That same year, Tomsic was involved in a deadly shooting during a car chase. Police said that Michael Lopez tried to ram patrol vehicles, prompting cops to open fire. The district attorney’s office declined to file charges against Tomsic in 2019, LA Times reported.
Torrance Police Department has conducted an internal investigation and placed more than a dozen officers on leave over alleged racist messages
In 2017, Tomsic received an award for saving the life of a baby who had stopped breathing
He was also cleared of any wrongdoing last year in connection with the death of suspect Deautry Ross, who was armed with a knife and allegedly tried to grab an officer’s gun during a 2018 arrest.
The district attorney’s office will review hundreds of criminal cases involving Tomsic and Weldin ‘to ensure no other alleged misconduct occurred,’ the DA’s statement said.
In the course of the investigation into the two officers, police were said to have uncovered racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic messages that were exchanged between 13 of their colleagues, leading the chief to relieve them of active duty, reported the station KCAL.
‘What we are looking at today is nothing even close to what can be minimized as locker room talk,’ Hart said. ‘We’re talking about an investigation that is about hatred and racism.’
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said his office has notified the Torrance City Attorney’s Office about reviewing possible misdemeanor charges against the 13 officers.
Tomsic and Weldin are due back in court for a preliminary hearing on October 4.