Editor’s note: This story has been changed to reflect a clarification from Councilwoman Baccus that Howard Garland is now the former city manager.

DARLINGTON, S.C. (WBTW) — The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said Friday that it has closed an investigation started after Darlington City Councilwoman Shelia Baccus allegedly hit City Manager John Payne during an executive session at a council meeting.

The 4th Circuit Solicitor’s Office declined to prosecute.

Baccus, in a statement to News13, said the allegations were false.

“The [current] city manager John Payne tried to use that false allegation to influence the lawsuit that I successfully and profitably won against Mayor Curtis Boyd, councilman John Segars, officer Paul Bryant, and the former city manager,” she said.

Baccus was referring to a civil lawsuit that was recently settled involving Baccus and Boyd that stemmed from her allegedly using racially-charged language toward a police officer in 2020.

Baccus filed the lawsuit in federal court on April 23, 2021, against Boyd, Segars, now-former City Manager Howard Garland, and Paul Boyd, a Darlington police school resource officer. Baccus received an undisclosed amount as a result of the lawsuit.

Payne said the solicitor’s office received video footage of Baccus striking him but declined to take any action.

“I think she has learned her lesson about assaulting anyone,” he said. “Her lawsuit did not involve me or the city of Darlington, so they are two totally unrelated matters.”

Details of the event that prompted the lawsuit are as follows:

Payne allegedly showed Baccus his text log to prove he hadn’t received a text from her in executive session. Baccus then allegedly responded by hitting Payne’s hand and almost knocking his phone across the floor.

Payne said in the report that “the violent action displayed by Councilwoman Baccus is disturbing and cause for concern.” The report also said the Darlington police called SLED in to investigate the incident.

Taylor Ford is a digital journalist for News13. She joined the News13 team in January 2023. Taylor is a Florence native and covers the Pee Dee out of News13’s Florence Bureau. Read more of Taylor’s work here.