LOS ANGELES – Two Los Angeles firefighters were charged Tuesday with attacking a man they saw giving candy to children on Halloween.
Eric Carpenter and Michael Vitar along with a third man, Thomas Molnar, were charged with assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury. Carpenter also is charged with causing great bodily injury.
Vitar is a former child actor who appeared in the 1993 film "The Sandlot" and in two "Mighty Ducks" movies.
Their attorneys say the off-duty firefighters and Molnar were in the front yard of Carpenter's Chatsworth home when they became concerned about a stranger who was passing out candy to children nearby and refused to go away.
The 22-year-old man was visiting his grandmother in the area and was handing out candy as he walked down the street, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.
Attorneys for the three men said they believed the man was acting suspiciously and bizarrely and might even be on drugs. They escorted him away but "he ran back," said Art Avazian, Molnar's attorney.
Prosecutors contend that the three men chased down the man, jumped him and forced him to the ground where Carpenter choked him.
The man passed out, and had to be revived and taken to a hospital, Avazian said.
However, the attorneys said the men were only trying to detain the man.
"He was acting out of concern for the children," said Michael A. Goldstein, Carpenter's lawyer.
Vitar "did not initiate the altercation" and "basically came to the aid of others," said his attorney, Joseph Gutierrez.
Carpenter faces up to seven years in prison if convicted and the other men could face four years each.
All three are out of jail and the firefighters have been placed on paid leave pending the investigation.