City of Torrance sued over racist graffiti allegedly by police officers
A South Bay man is suing the city of Torrance for $6 million, alleging in federal court that a tow truck company worked with the city to hide allegations that his car had been painted with a swastika by two ex-Torrance police officers, according to court papers obtained Friday.
Kiley Swaine, 28, of Redondo Beach, contends that the tow company schemed with the city to hide the involvement of Torrance police in damaging his car for almost two years, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles.
The 46-page complaint naming the city and ex-officers Cody Weldin and Christopher Tomsic alleges unlawful search and seizure, unlawful taking of his property, and civil rights violations.
Last year, the District Attorney’s Office announced that Weldin and Tomsic had been charged with conspiracy to commit vandalism and vandalism for allegedly spray-painting a swastika inside of Swaine’s 2004 Hyundai Elantra after they arrested him in January 2020.
The incident sparked an investigation that determined more than a dozen Torrance Police Department officers had been allegedly exchanging racist and homophobic text messages since 2018.
A Torrance police spokesman said the department does not comment on pending litigation.
Swaine was arrested in January 2020 on suspicion of mail theft, held overnight and released the next day. After his car was impounded, Swaine learned that the car was vandalized when he went to the tow yard to pick up the vehicle.
The lawsuit says the tow yard paid the $2,250 cost of repairing the damage to the car. Swaine alleges he was led to believe that the vehicle had been damaged by the tow truck driver.