A recent fight involving a county board member at Grand Valley Village in Springfield left one young man hospitalized and in police custody, but the youth’s parents say the police got the story wrong.
On Oct. 10, Sangamon County Board member William “Bill” Moss, a Republican, got into a fight with a 16-year-old Grand Valley Village resident while campaigning in the private neighborhood on Springfield’s north side. Moss says the youth attacked him, but the young man’s parents say it was the other way around, alleging that the Springfield police accepted Moss’s story over theirs because of his political standing.
Both sides agree that Moss was campaigning in Grand Valley Village when he approached Windon “Bull” Henderson, 45, about voting for Moss in the Nov. 2 general election. Henderson and Moss had been on opposing sides in a previous zoning dispute several years before, and Henderson told Moss to leave his property.
Moss claims that Henderson and a group of children followed him around the neighborhood, cursing at him and telling other residents not to vote for him. Henderson concedes that some neighborhood children followed Moss, but he claims he was not present. Instead, he says Moss convinced another Grand Valley Village man to try and hit the children with his car. Henderson says he found Moss and was questioning him about allegedly trying to have the children hit, when Henderson’s stepson arrived.
Moss told the State Journal-Register that Henderson’s stepson tried to punch him, and that he merely took the young man to the ground and held him. But Henderson tells a different story, claiming his stepson asked Moss if he tried to have children hit by a car. Henderson says Moss responded by pushing Henderson’s stepson to the ground, putting both knees on the young man’s chest, grabbing his throat and punching his face.
“He was spitting blood and he had red marks all over him,” Henderson says of his stepson, displaying pictures he took with his cell phone that show the young man being put on a stretcher by paramedics. In the pictures, the young man is wearing a neck brace, and his shirt is torn. He was taken to the hospital and later arrested by Springfield police. The young man is currently being held in the Sangamon County Juvenile Center, awaiting trial for one count of aggravated battery. He has a prior record in the juvenile justice system, his parents say, noting that he took a plea bargain in a previous battery case and was on probation.
Police interviewed Moss and his wife, Norma, as well as Henderson and two neighbors who claim they witnessed the incident. Henderson says police declined to interview Henderson’s stepson or the other youths present, saying, “We don’t interview children; they lie.” The neighbors’ accounts support Moss’s version of the incident, and the police reports on the incident say Moss was acting in self-defense.
“There’s a line between self-defense and battery,” Henderson says, addressing Moss’s claim. “… Self-defense only goes to the point where I’m no longer in danger, but if I continue to hold someone down and punch them, it becomes battery. Even if he was acting in self-defense at first, he crossed the line. No 16-year-old kid deserves to get beaten by a grown man.”
Moss could not be reached for comment by publication.
Contact Patrick Yeagle at firstname.lastname@example.org.