SIMPSONVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) - A former Simpsonville City Council member is suing the city after being thrown out of a council meeting in February 2016.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of Sylvia Lockaby lists Simpsonville Mayor Janice Curtis, the city of Simpsonville, the Simpsonville Police Department, and Adam Randolph, an officer with the department, as defendants.
The lawsuit states Lockaby was asking the former city administrator, David Dyrhaug, a question about a curb replacement on Aster Drive.
"She was trying to figure out what additional costs the city would have to endure," Lockaby's attorney, Taylor Smith said.
The lawsuit says before Lockaby could ask a follow up question she was interrupted by the mayor.
The lawsuit details the interactions that followed as such:
Plaintiff objected to the Mayor’s characterization of her discussion with Administrator Dyrhaug and the Mayor’s interpretation of the meaning of “discussion” by saying “I’m not arguing. I’m, I’m stating a fact that we have storm water issues all over the city. Is this opening a can of worms?” Despite Mayor Curtis’s attempts to interrupt Plaintiff’s discussion with Administrator Dyrhaug, Plaintiff persisted in trying get an answer from Dyrhaug when Mayor Curtis declared Plaintiff was finished and began banging the gavel several times and yelling “Order!” After Plaintiff questioned whether Mayor Curtis intended to eject Plaintiff from the meeting for pursuing the inquiry with Dyrhaug, Mayor Curtis indicated she was and told Officer Randolph to approach the front of council chambers. After Defendant Randolph arrived near the front of the room, Mayor Curtis said to Defendant Randolph: “I need her out.” At which point, Defendant Randolph said, “Councilmember Lockaby, will you come with me please?”
Several people at the meeting have told 7News the mayor had threatened to remove another council member before she ejected Lockaby.
7News spoke to Mayor Curtis after the incident happened in 2016.
"There was a flat refusal there for her to be cooperative..I had no choice," Mayor Curtis said.
Lockaby's lawyers say her first and fourth amendment rights were violated.
"When the government chooses to censor someone based on what they are saying, and then involve a police officer to arrest someone for the content of what they're saying...It's not only unconstitutional, it also presents a problem with regards to trust," Smith said.
This is also not the first time in recent years that Mayor Curtis has been sued for her actions within council meetings.
In April of 2016, a group of citizens sued the mayor for the way she handled an executive session surrounding the employment status of then police chief Keith Grounsell.
7News reached out to the city for a comment. The city administrator said they cannot comment on pending litigation.