DARLINGTON, S.C. (WBTW) — A civil lawsuit between a Darlington councilwoman and mayor Curtis Boyd that stemmed from her allegedly using racially-charged language toward a police officer in 2020 has been settled.
Councilwoman Sheila Baccus filed the lawsuit in federal court on April 23, 2021 against Darlington Mayor Curtis Boyd, Councilman John Segars, now-former City Manager Howard Garland, and a school resource officer with Darlington PD, Paul Bryant.
A stipulation of dismissal document obtained by News13 was filed on Aug. 18.
Baccus released the following statement to News13:
“My lawsuit against the Mayor and other city officials and employees was successful because they agreed to pay monetary damages and to comply with the laws governing public records, conflict of interest, procurement, and community policing.
They also agreed to require all city officials and employees to undergo education and training for implicit bias, diversity, and inclusion within the next year. The city of Darlington and all our citizens will be better served with these changes.“
Darlington Mayor Curtis Boyd, who recently won reelection, called it a “very frivolous lawsuit.” He said the defendants, including himself, previously had a meeting on the case, but at the time left with no settlement and did not want to settle.
However, the Insurance Reserve Fund later decided to settle for what Boyd called a “very, very minimal” amount. He could not specify the exact amount because of the terms of the agreement.
Boyd also said the defendants, including him, did not have to pay anything. The Insurance Reserve Fund took care of the fees.
He also made it clear that the lawsuit was filed against individuals, not the city of Darlington as a whole, meaning there were no changes in terms of how the city operates or trains employees.
Boyd told News13 he backed the officer in the incident “150%”.
Below are the details that stemmed from the lawsuit Baccus filed.
On June 17, 2020, Baccus was working in a garden in front of a home on Oak Street in Darlington and was parked on the curb, according to the lawsuit. Bryant gave Baccus a parking ticket and she claims the entire conversation she had with him on why she was being ticketed was recorded on Bryant’s bodycam.
Baccus claims an incident report filed by Bryant falsely accused her of telling him to “take your white self back to the white neighborhood,” according to the lawsuit.
She also claims a day later during a meeting, Garland said if the details in the incident report were released to the public it would damage her reputation. Police Chief Kelvin Washington and City Attorney Kevin Etheridge were also at the meeting, she said. She was told she needed to apologize to Bryant, the lawsuit says.
A special meeting was called for July 21. Baccus claims that during the meeting, Bryant was allowed to reiterate the false claims against her, according to the lawsuit. The bodycam footage was allegedly played during the executive session at that meeting.
However, that wasn’t the only incident allegedly involving race with Baccus. Back in April, she was accused of hitting Darlington City Manager John Payne after accusing him of “being insensitive to a black person.”
In another incident on March 1, Baccus allegedly locked Payne out of his office after inquiring about why a city council meeting was moved from March 7 to March 14, according to the report. Payne said in the report that Baccus accused him of being racist.
Caleb is a digital producer at News13. Caleb joined the team in January 2023 after graduating from Liberty University. He is from Northern Virginia. Follow Caleb on X, formerly Twitter, and read more of his work here.