CARTERSVILLE, Ga. — A big house party on the last night of 2017 ended with 65 young people in handcuffs. A prosecutor said only one of them broke the law.
Prosecutors now say the teens were targeted and a judge agrees.
The young people who were celebrating New Year’s Eve and told Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes that they are still traumatized by the arrests and how they were treated at the Bartow County Jail.
The victims said they appreciate the settlement for nearly $1 million but want change in the police department more than anything.
“I literally was in shackles from my arms, and they were tied around my ankles as well — it was very traumatic,” said Deja Heard.
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Heard says she’ll never forget what happened at her 21st birthday party when she rented out A Cartersville home through Airbnb to celebrate with her friends.
A total of 65 young people – mostly Black – ended up in this Bartow County Jail after Cartersville police illegally entered the home without a warrant.
“It’s an issue not just with Blacks. I feel like this is an issue with everyone in my community with corrupt police,” Heard said.
Back then, police said they barged into the home because a neighbor said they heard gunshots.
After searching dozens of people, they found less than an ounce of marijuana outside on the ground.
Because no one would claim it, police arrested 65 people and charged them all with the small amount of marijuana.
Bartow County and Cartersville police just settled for the wrongful arrests for nearly $1 million that those arrested had to split.
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“It’s OK to be wrong sometimes. And we’re all human, we all make mistakes. Just going forward, correct yourselves. Apologize. I mean, yes, a settlement, like I said I’m very greatly appreciative of it, but no one has actually sat down and said that we apologize for being in the wrong, we’re sorry for what we did to you, we’re sorry for treating you inhumane,” Heard said.
“It’s a very large settlement, so it sends a message to Georgia that if you violate somebody’s civil rights, the NAACP and civil rights attorneys will hold you to task and protect those young peoples’ rights,” said Gerald Griggs with the NAACP.
Fernandes contacted the Bartow County District Attorney’s Office for comment on this story and never heard back.
Cartersville police sent Fernandes a one-line statement saying they will continue to honor the 4th Amendment, which protects people from unreasonable searches.
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