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Judge Sorts Out Sordid Bachelor Party Arrests

WASHINGTON (CN) - Cops who broke up a bachelor party featuring "scantily clad" strippers "with money in their garters" and the smell of marijuana are liable for false arrest, a federal judge ruled.

The group of revelers was arrested for unlawful entry and disorderly conduct at around 1:30 a.m. on March 15, 2008. D.C. Metropolitan Police had entered the house where the party was being held in response to a call about it.

One of the officers, Andre Parker testified about having heard about "a lot of partying going on at" the supposedly vacant home. Once inside, Parker said he observed no furniture - just a mattress and lighted candles. He also observed "provocatively" dressed women and smelled of marijuana, but he neither found narcotics nor observed any illegal activity.

The men argued that they had permission to be in the home from a woman named "Peaches." Later, however, the home's purported owner said Peaches had only discussed leasing the property and that the he had not given her permission to host the party.

This discovery led the officers to make the unlawful-entry arrests, and the bachelor party guests ultimately spent several house in police custody. At the station, the charge changed from unlawful entry to disorderly conduct, but this did not sit well with some of the officers who questioned whether you can be disorderly inside of a house.

After the charges were dropped, 16 plaintiffs filed suit against the District of Columbia, the Metro Police Department and five officers.

U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins backed the partygoers on Wednesday, though he let three of the officers off the hook.

All five officers won summary judgment in their official capacities as to the Section 1983 claims and the state-law false arrest claims. But Wilkins granted the plaintiffs summary judgment on the same claims against two officers in their individual capacities, Andre Parker and Anthony Campanale.

As to the state-law false arrest claims, Parker and Campanale are liable only for the unlawful entry dispute.

The district is on the hook for the false arrest with respect to both the disorderly conduct and unlawful entry, and it is liable for state-law negligent supervision.

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