A financial dispute between an automotive shop owner and a state senator-elect from eastern Oklahoma boiled over into a fistfight after a Westville festival Saturday, resulting in police citations, a woman’s shoulder being dislocated and additional criticism for an incoming public official.
Tom Woods, who Republican voters elected last week to a four-year term representing State Senate District 4, was punched in the face by businessman Dustin Stanley, the owner of Stanley’s Truck Shop, around 5 p.m. Aug. 27 as the fourth-annual Westville Melon and Barbecue Festival concluded.
Both men were cited for disorderly conduct, and police also issued an assault and battery citation to Stanley, who has alleged that Woods owes him about $5,000 for work he did on Woods’ Peterbilt truck in 2019. Stanley filed a lien against Woods’ real estate property over the summer. Woods challenged the lien in court, and a judge ruled the lien invalid because it was not filed within 45 days of the work being done.
Reached today, Woods said “there’s no story there” regarding the fight with Stanley on Saturday.
“Everybody’s running around, or attempting to make a story out of it. I was a victim of a — someone hit me in the face. I was assaulted. That’s why he got an assault charge,” Woods said. “It was just within city limits. Cops didn’t know (what happened). They gave both of us a ticket, and they said the judge is going to sort it out.”
Woods, 27, emphasized that Stanley instigated the altercation.
“I don’t need people’s sympathy,” Woods said. “I just don’t want to get punched in the face.”
Stanley described his recollection of the incident, which he said occurred at the conclusion of the festival’s car show.
“I took a truck to my shop, and I was walking back to get one of the other two, and whenever I rounded the corner down there by the flower shop, I’d seen Tom,” Stanley told NonDoc. “He looked at me and smiled real big, and I was sure it was because the court ruled (against me). He smiled real big, and I said, ‘What’s up, crook?’ Just as plain as day, not yelling or nothing. I said, ‘What’s up, crook?'”
Stanley, a 30-year-old citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, said Woods “started yelling that I was the crook, and that’s why I lost in court.”
“So I stopped, and I was like, ‘That ain’t why I lost in court. I lost in court because they ruled on the statute of limitation,'” Stanley said. “He just kept getting louder, and we was arguing, and before I knew it, I hit him, and I think he fell down the stairs or steps or whatever, and of course I followed, and I hit him a couple more times.”
Stanley said two women rushed over to break up the fight.
“One of them got her shoulder dislocated somehow, and Tom hit the other one in the eye,” Stanley said. “I didn’t even know those two things had happened until I was filling out my police report.”
The Westville Police Department provided NonDoc with copies of the two citations against Stanley and the single citation against Woods, as well as a brief narrative of the incident.
“Two parties were involved in a verbal altercation concerning a personal matter that allegedly turned physical per witness statements,” wrote officer December McDaniel. “Both parties were issued citations; one was issued a disorderly conduct citation and the other was issued two, one for disorderly conduct and the other for assault and battery, with an assigned court date.”
Both Stanley and Woods were assigned an Oct. 6 court date. Stanley said many residents of the town have asked, “Did you whoop him pretty good?’
“I was like, ‘I don’t know. I hit him a few times,'” Stanley said. “I do know that my fist hurt.”
‘People that don’t like me are trying to twist it into something’
Woods, who said he was uninjured after the fight and that he called to check on the women the next day, is set to be sworn into the Oklahoma State Senate in November after winning the Aug. 23 Republican runoff. No Democrat filed for SD 4, which runs through the Cherokee Nation along the Arkansas border, from Grove south to Roland, and represents all of Adair County in the Oklahoma Senate.
“This story that you’re getting — the story that I’ve done something wrong. I did nothing wrong. [I was] the victim of a crime. And it’s unfortunate, but it’s politics,” Woods said. “This guy was heated because I won. And, you know, that just — you just never know who you’re dealing with. I’m a victim of a crime, and people that don’t like me are trying to twist it into something it’s not. (…) They’re trying to just smear my name.”
Stanley, who criticized Woods for the financial dispute on social media ahead of the election, said any reputation tied to Woods’ name is of his own making.
“He’s not good for business around here,” Stanley said. “If anybody actually knows Tom, they did not vote for him in this election.”
Stanley said he performed more than $19,000 worth of work rebuilding an engine in Woods’ Peterbilt truck in 2019. He said Woods paid for that work, picked up the truck and drove it to Kansas. Less than 40 hours later, Stanley said Woods returned with the truck, which had a galled piston as a result of the engine overheating three times, according to computer diagnostics.
“He said something about, ‘I’m not [paying]. This should be warranty work.’ I’m like, ‘No, it’s not warrantied work. I don’t give warranties,'” Stanley said. “If I feel like it’s something that we did, then we’re going to try to make it right.”
Stanley said Woods called him “dishonest” for trying to charge Woods for the additional work on the engine. Woods said continued criticism of him over the truck, which he no longer owns, “is just blatant slander.”
Woods and Stanley had been in court about the matter weeks prior to Saturday’s fracas.
On July 18, Stanley filed a mechanic’s lien on Woods’ property. On July 21, Woods petitioned Adair County Special Judge Gary Huggins to dismiss the lien, which the judge did on Aug. 2 owing to the statute of limitations.
Three weeks later, Tom Woods received 59.5 percent of the Aug. 23 Republican runoff vote against retired Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper Keith Barenberg.
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‘Pay the debt that is owed’
After the lien was dismissed but before the runoff election, Stanley referenced the matter Aug. 8 when he shared a Tom Woods for State Senate 4 post on Facebook and called him “the biggest scam there is.”
“Anybody that truly knows him did not vote for him. He didn’t pay me for work that we did,” Stanley wrote on Facebook. “He opened up his feed store to put L&S out of business and that is his exact words why he opened his feed store. So if you think he’s good for small business you better talk to the local small businesses that he had dealt with.”
In the comments of the post, Stanley claimed he had “evidence” that Woods owed him money. Stanley’s wife, Kyleigh, came to his defense when someone noted the lien had been dismissed owing to the statute of limitations.
“Dustin always tries to do the very best by each client and help them out in any way that he can. How shameful is it to take advantage of a hard working small business?” Kyleigh Stanley wrote. “If you want to make it right, mail in or come by in person and pay the debt that is owed. That is all that has been asked.”
Woods does have one debt officially registered with the state of Oklahoma: $78,750 in personal loans he made to his 2022 campaign committee. State law allows candidates for office to loan their campaigns money at a 0 percent interest rate, and they are allowed to repay themselves with money received in the future from campaign contributions.
Functionally elected and set to succeed Sen. Mark Allen (R-Spiro) in November, Woods can continue to raise money for his campaign committee until the Legislature convenes for regular session on the first Monday in February.
“It’s a bad deal. I mean, someone comes up and assaults you. That’s why I didn’t get an assault and battery charge,” Woods said. “I did nothing wrong. It’s just what happens when you’re in the public eye. I’ve made my fair share of enemies campaigning. That’s all it is.”