The city of Torrance, California has agreed to pay a man $750,000 after two police officers were accused of spray painting a swastika inside his car three years ago.
The Los Angeles suburb signed off on the payout after the complainant, Kiley Swaine, described finding the swastika on the front passenger seat of his car after he was arrested along with two other suspects accused of mail theft in January 2020, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The charges against Swaine were later dropped.
Two Torrance police officers, Christopher Tomsic and Cody Weldin, allegedly spray painted a swastika with a smiley face on the seat of Swaine’s car, leaving the interior damaged, before the car was towed away from the scene, Swaine’s lawyer, Jerry Steering, said in a statement.
Swaine told the police about the graffiti after he discovered it once his car was released two days after being impounded.
Both officers pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and vandalism charges, and have left the department, according to the report.
"I have been suing police officers for 39 years and I have never seen anything like this," Steering said. "It never ceases to amaze me that quite often the very people entrusted by our citizens to protect us from dangerous criminals are more dangerous than the criminals who they are supposed to be protecting us from."
In 2021, the Times found that officers in the Torrance Police Department had texted each other with offensive comments about Jews and other minority groups.
In the aftermath of the charges against Tomsic and Weldin, it was announced that 13 additional officers had been suspended over sharing hateful messages, including antisemitic content.
The officers were placed on administrative leave, CBS Los Angeles reported.
Torrance Mayor Pat Furey told CBS that the behavior was “sickening,” especially given that the accused were sworn to uphold the law.