MANHATTAN BEACH (CBSLA) – A man who was seriously injured by two off-duty Los Angeles firefighters who beat and choked him on Halloween night in 2015 has been awarded more than $7 million.
After being falsely accused of giving children drug-laced candy, Samuel Chang was held down and choked. Cellphone video captured the firefighters and other party-goers harassing Chang and telling him he came to the wrong place to give out his candy.
Chang, then a 23-year-old college student, was handing out candy in the Chatsworth neighborhood where his grandmother lived.
He was chased down and a neighbor’s video shows, Chang ends up on the ground, Eric Carpenter – dressed as He-Man – is shown holding him down in a headlock. Another off-duty firefighter, is also shown restraining him.
Chang is heard pleading for the men to stop. A police report said Chang suffered severe head and kidney injuries.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office charged the firefighters and another neighbor with felony assault. But when the case got to court, Carpenter and the others were allowed to plead no contest to a misdemeanor. At that time, CBS2 Investigative Reporter David Goldstein got Chang’s reaction to the reduced sentence.
“My heart stopped and blood stopped flowing to my brain, yet this wasn’t considered a felony? I was shocked,” Chang said.
Both firefighters were put on leave and ended up with a six-month suspension without pay. After they returned to work, Goldstein caught up with Carpenter when he was off-duty and asked him if he regretted what happened that night.
“The entire incident was regrettable – certainly things could have been handled differently but we’re all trying to move forward and I appreciate your time and interest in it,” Carpenter said.
“If you watch some of those videos and you really see what happened, it is outrageous,” Chang’s attorney David Ring told CBS2 Wednesday night. “It makes your blood boil.”
Ring told Kim his client got no justice in the criminal courts, so he filed civil charges against the two firefighters and three others. That civil case led to the $7.4 million settlement.
“It’s a small measure of justice for him but this young man, he’s got some permanent lifelong injuries,” Ring said.
When asked about the reduced sentence in the case, the DA’s office told CBS2 they did not believe a jury would find the two firefighters guilty of a felony conduct based on the facts of the case.