Los Angeles, Mar 22 (IANS): Torrance, a city located nearly 30 kilometre south of Los Angeles, California, paid $7,50,000 after two police officers allegedly spray-painted a swastika inside a suspect's car three years back.
According to a report of Fox News on Tuesday, the payout settled a federal lawsuit filed by Kiley Swaine, who discovered the swastika on his car's back seat after he and two other men were arrested on suspicion of mail theft in January 2020. Swaine was later cleared of the mail charges.
Swaine's attorney Jerry Steering was quoted as saying that two Torrance police officers, Christopher Tomsic and Cody Weldin, allegedly spray-painted the swastika, as well as a happy face, on Swaine's car seats before having the vehicle towed away, Xinhua news agency reported.
Even though Swaine reported the vandalism less than two days after it occurred, he apparently did not learn about the case against the officers until October 2021 after the Los Angeles County District Attorney announced the charges. The two have reportedly left the force and each pleaded not guilty while they await trial on conspiracy and vandalism charges.
Swaine's complaint also triggered an investigation which revealed a scandal.
"The investigation into Tomsic and Weldin prompted prosecutors to search the officers' phones. The search turned up text exchanges among more than a dozen officers that included racist, anti-semitic and homophobic comments," Steering said on his law office's official website.
Steering said in a statement on Monday that he has been suing police officers for 39 years and has never seen anything like this.
"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."
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office is expected to convene a grand jury this week to determine if two former Torrance police officers should be charged in the shooting death of a suspect in December 2018.