Charges dropped in Springs HOA fight

Charges dropped on HOA fight

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - You may remember the local HOA a meeting that made National headlines earlier this year.  A fight broke out,. witnesses say fists and chairs flew, and two people went to the hospital.  Two men were also charged with battery.

But today, the Riverside County District Attorney's office dropped those charges.  The defense attorney for Thomas Moore and Jeff Berry tells us the DA shouldn't have charged her clients in the first place because they were the victims,  not only of assault, but possibly a hate crime as well. 

"There were far to many hateful, homophobic statements uttered at the town hall meeting during the fight," said Attorney Melanie Roe.

Roe says pictures of Moore's injuries tell the story.

"He suffered a significant life altering injury as a result of the incident and he continues to suffer from a permanent disability," said Roe.

It allegedly happened last February during an HOA election meeting at The Springs in Rancho Mirage.  Moore's partner, Donald Searle, ran for a seat on the board.

"Mr. Searle tried to make a statement, he was not allowed to speak at the podium, he was not given a microphone, he was told to speak from the audience. Heckling began, hate speech was uttered by various people in the rec-room," said Roe.

Searle lost the election.  After the HOA meeting ended, Roe says a newly elected board member pushed Moore down. 

"After Mr. Moore fell to the ground several men attacked him, dog piled on top of him, gave him quit the beating," said Roe.

Roe says Moore, who suffers from epilepsy, had a seizure.  Jeff Berry, Moore's live-in caretaker, came to his defense. 

"He was taken down to the ground and later held at gunpoint outside of the room," said Roe. 

Moore spent a week in the hospital.  Moore filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit for his injuries and for negligence and discrimination. 

"They are saying you can't discriminate against us because of our sexual orientation, that is just not going to be accepted," said Roe. 

The attorney representing The Springs and the HOA declined to comment on the case, but disputes this version of the events.

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