A man who was attacked by a group of people — including two off-duty Los Angeles firefighters — and choked to unconsciousness on Halloween night 2015 in Chatsworth reached a $7.4 million settlement of his lawsuit against the assailants, his attorney said Wednesday.
Attorney David Ring said then-23-year-old graduate student Samuel Chang was handing out Halloween candy to children in the neighborhood when five men who appeared to be intoxicated approached him and began asking if he was distributing drug-laced candy.
The group attacked Chang, with one of the assailants — LAFD firefighter Eric Carpenter — placing him in a choke hold until Chang lost consciousness and went into cardiac arrest, Ring said. The group performed CPR on Chang and called 911, falsely telling responding crews that Chang was on drugs and armed, according to the attorney.
Three of the men involved in the attack were charged with felony assault. Carpenter, however, eventually pleaded to a misdemeanor assault charge and was sentenced to three years probation and 135 days of community service, records show.
Fellow firefighter Michael Vitar, a former child actor who starred in “The Sandlot,” and Carpenter’s neighbor Thomas Molnar pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery and received three years probation and 90 days of community service, according to court records. The two firefighters were suspended for six months without pay but have returned to full duty.
Ring has criticized prosecutors for allowing the men to plead to misdemeanors.
“Samuel was brutally beaten by these thugs,” Ring said. “The civil settlement provides him with some justice for what he endured. Yet we remain incredibly disappointed that the District Attorney’s Office failed to hold the defendants accountable for this horrific attack.”
Chang sued the group of men in 2017. Ring filed court papers Jan. 30 asking that the case be dismissed, according to court records.