Opponent says supervisor ‘sucker punched’ him; supervisor denies claim

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 25, 2016


SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Richard Batchelder, a Shelby Township resident and retired firefighter who filed to run for supervisor in the Aug. 2 election, said Supervisor Rick Stathakis assaulted him before the April 19 Shelby Township Board of Trustees meeting.

Police said Batchelder filed a police report regarding the incident and that they are investigating, but police declined to comment on the case because it is still under investigation.

Stathakis denied the claim.

Batchelder said Stathakis approached him in the lobby outside of the boardroom just prior to the April 19 meeting and went to shake his hand.

“He leaned forward and spewed out a few threats of a smear campaign and how he’s looking forward to the election,” Batchelder said. “I went to do the right thing. I went to wish him well and shake his hand, but he grabbed my hand and squeezed as hard as he could and also pushed me off-balance.”

He said Stathakis then held a clenched fist approximately 6 to 12 inches away from his chest and, as he walked by, hit him in the right clavicle.

“He struck me just as hard as he could,” he said. “He basically sucker punched me.”

Batchelder said he made a police report the following morning. He said he also saw his doctor after experiencing some tenderness after lunch, so his doctor X-rayed it, but everything was fine.

“I filed for supervisor basically for reasons just like this. He’s basically a bully,” he said. “His behavior pattern — really of misconduct — is unbecoming of his office. It was a difficult decision to run, but I found out no one else was running against him.”

He said the incident provided further incentive for him to run harder for the position of supervisor.

“I should not be surprised at anything that happens near election season, given that my opponent was part of the group behind the failed recall attempts during my first term,” Stathakis said.

Stathakis said Batchelder approached him before the meeting and extended his hand. He said he accepted the handshake and wished Batchelder luck on his campaign for office. The next morning, he said he was shocked to hear that Batchelder had filed a complaint of assault against him.

“Almost immediately following this alleged incident, my opponent addressed our board and announced his candidacy for township supervisor, but he failed to make any mention of the alleged assault and showed no signs of discomfort,” he said. “I thought that we had matured beyond such childish, cheap, pitiful attempts at publicity, but I guess my opponent feels otherwise.”

In 2012, Batchelder ran for the position of Shelby Township clerk. He lost to Clerk Stan Grot.