California city pays $750,000 to owner of car allegedly painted with swastika by police officers


The city of Torrance has paid $750,000 to the owner of an impounded car that allegedly was spray-painted by police with a swastika in 2020.

The payment settles a $6 million federal lawsuit by car owner Kiley Swaine, who did not learn of the alleged involvement of two former Torrance police officers until nearly two years after the damage to his 2004 Hyundai Elantra.

The swastika incident led to the discovery that some officers were engaging in racist and homophobic text messages, including jokes about having “gassed the Jews,” urinating on a Black man and beating up a woman.

The texts featured several variations of the n-word and referred to detainees as “monkeys,” “moon crickets”  and “savages.” So far, at least four officers have been terminated or resigned in the aftermath of the scandal. Fifteen officers had been placed on leave pending an investigation.

“I have been suing police officers for 39 years and I have never seen anything like this,” said Swaine’s attorney, Jerry Steering of Newport Beach. “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.”

Two former Torrance officers, Cody Weldin and Christopher Tomsic, have been charged with felony conspiracy and vandalism in the swastika incident. They are scheduled to appear in Los Angeles County Superior Court on March 29 and are awaiting a preliminary hearing.

Swaine’s car was impounded and he and two others were arrested in the early morning hours of Jan. 27, 2020, on suspicion of stealing mail from an apartment building. No charges were ever filed against Swaine.

At the time of his arrest, Swaine was with Torrance resident Robert Boman, an alleged member of a Southern California-based white supremacist group who is facing federal charges for violent attacks at local political rallies.

Boman, an alleged member of the Rise Above Movement, is accused of attacking people at rallies in Huntington Beach and Berkeley.

Steering said Swaine, who is half-Jewish, knew Boman only as a co-worker at a South Bay restaurant. He said Swaine was not affiliated with the Rise Above Movement.

Before officers took Swaine and the two others to jail, they congratulated Boman on his political views and actions on behalf of the white supremacy cause, Steering said.

After his release from jail, Swaine picked up his car from the tow yard and found the swastika painted on the back seat and a smiley face painted elsewhere on the car. Breakfast cereal and a protein powder had been dumped throughout the vehicle.


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