Two Los Angeles city firefighters, one of whom stared in the 1990s movie “The Sandlot” as a child, and a third man have been charged in the beating of a man who was also choked on Halloween, according to multiple reports Tuesday.
Michael Anthony Vitar, 36, Eric Carpenter, 38, and Thomas Molnar, 45, were all charged with assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, according to a Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office news release.
Carpenter was also charged with personally inflicting great bodily injury on the victim, the DA said.
The former actor was attending a Halloween party on Oct. 31 hosted by Carpenter, a fellow Los Angeles Fire Department firefighter, when the violence unfolded. Both men were off-duty at the time.
Molnar, Carpenter’s neighbor, was also in attendance.
Prosecutors claim the three men became upset when a 22-year-old man who was in the area visiting his grandmother handed out candy to children as he walked down the street, the DA states.
They then chased the victim, and “jumped him” before forcing him to the ground and choking him, according to the DA.
The incident grew out of the men’s concern for the children, Carpenter’s attorney told the Times, alleging the victim was escorted away from Carpenter’s property before he ran back, sparking the violence.
“It was a relatively simple incident … that escalated based on unusual behavior by the alleged victim,” attorney Michael Goldstein said. “Eric Carpenter is in the business of saving lives, so when you’re in that business you kind of have a heightened sense of alert.”
All three were scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday, but their appearance was continued to Jan. 21, when they would appear in Department 100 of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Van Nuys Branch.
If convicted, Carpenter faces up to seven years in state prison. Vitar and Molnar face up to four years each in state prison.
Carpenter and Vitar have been suspended with pay, the Fire Department told the Times.
The Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division was investigating the incident.