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They were arrested for less than an ounce of weed at a lingerie-themed party. Now, dozens are suing.

64 people were arrested at a lingerie-themed party for less than an ounce of marijuana. The charges were dismissed, but now the party-goers filed a lawsuit against the city and law enforcement.

CARTERSVILLE, Ga. — More than a year after over 60 people were arrested at a lingerie-themed birthday party for an ounce of marijuana in Cartersville, Georgia, the group is suing the city and law enforcement.

Sixty-four people were arrested on New Year’s Eve 2017. The arrests happened after there were alleged reports of shots fired. Officers said at the time they arrived, they were met with the smell of marijuana. Officers and drug task force members said they found marijuana, three weapons and individually-wrapped packages of cocaine inside after receiving a search warrant.

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Everyone inside the home was arrested; each person was charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana since it was within reach of all of them. 

Twelve days after their arrests, the district attorney dismissed the warrants and dropped the charges against all but one person, due to insufficient evidence.

A metro Atlanta district attorney has dropped charges against 64 defendants after a lingerie-themed party was busted for drugs on New Year's Eve. The arrests happened on Cain Drive in Cartersville in the early morning hours of Dec. 31 after alleged reports of shots fired.

Now, a lawsuit has been filed “challenging the mass detention, seizure, search and arrest of over sixty students, college graduates, and military servicemen attending a birthday party.” 

The defendants include the city of Cartersville, Bartow County Sheriff’s Office, Cartersville Police Department and the Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task force.

The complaint, filed by members of the Southern Center for Human Rights and the Merchant Law Firm PF, alleges partygoers were stripped-searched and held for one to three days without access to phones, courts or counsel. 

The complaint also states some members of the mass arrest had military prospects affected and missed worked and were subjected to humiliating treatment. In one portion, the lawsuit claims jail staff posted a sign reading “THE PARTY CREW” on the holding cell windows and laughed.

The complaint states some of those arrested had no criminal history prior to the arrest, and many were subjected to drug tests before they could return to work. One plaintiff was terminated after his arrest, another wasn’t allowed to play or practice basketball with this school team following the arrest, according to the complaint.

In the 52-page lawsuit, several Cartersville officers are accused of seizing all occupants of the home based “solely of the smell of suspected marijuana.” Although officers were responding to a call about shots fired, the complaint states the officers entered the residence without valid consent and later obtained a search warrant after the seized the entire group.

The lawsuit further states the group should be compensated for false imprisonment, unconstitutional search, unconstitutional seizure, violations of privacy, battery.

Cartersville Police Chief Frank McCann and Bartow County Sheriff’s Office have yet to respond to requests for comment.

Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini said in an email to 11Alive's Hope Ford, "The City of Cartersville does not comment on potential or pending litigation."

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