In August, the Los Angeles County District Attorney filed federal charges against two Torrance, California, police officers for conspiracy to commit vandalism and vandalism after a suspect’s car was returned covered in antisemitic graffiti. Now the owner of the car is also suing the police department, alleging Torrance police conspired with the towing company to hide their officers’ crime.
This all started when Kiley Swaine was arrested in January 2020 for suspicion of stealing mail from a Torrance apartment complex. His 2004 Hyundai Elantra was impounded and he spent the night in jail. No charges were filed against Swaine, but when he went to retrieve his car from Van Lingen Towing he found spray painted swastikas as well as a smiley face inside of the car, according to the Daily Breeze.
At first, Van Lingen Towing took responsibility for the damage, paying $2,250 to have the car fixed up. But the tow truck driver admitted under questioning from police that he witnessed two now-former Torrance police officers, Corey Weldin and Christopher Tomsic, damaging the vehicle. The investigation of this incident led to the discovery of at least 13 other officers sending racist, antisemitic and homophobic messages between themselves. All have been placed on paid leave while an investigation takes place. Every investigation involving Weldin and Tomsic is being reviewed for evidence of discriminatory actions in their police work, Fox 11 reported.
Swaine filed the lawsuit Wednesday in federal court. He is alleging that police worked with Van Lingen Towing to delay the investigation until the statue of limitations on a civil suit had past, according to Mercury News:
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court, alleges Van Lingen Towing conspired with the city partially so car owner Kiley Swaine would not find out the Torrance department was responsible until after the one year statute of limitations for litigation had expired. The suit contends the statute, which is the deadline for filing civil action, should not have begun ticking until Swaine was officially informed of the department’s involvement in October 2021 — almost two years after the damage to his Hyundai.
Swaine’s lawyer theorized Van Lingen Towing participated in the subterfuge in order to protect its impound contracts with the city. The lawsuit seeks $3 million in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages against the city of Torrance as well as the two officers awaiting trial.