Ralph E. Fernandez, an attorney for Tamla Horsford’s family, told Forsyth County News that he has requested documents from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office related to the investigation and decision not to prosecute .
Speaking of the investigation, Fernandez said “it’s never going to end,” saying the homicide investigation could turn into an unsolved case, but it won’t end.
No criminal charges appear to be filed after Georgia Bureau of Investigation officials investigated Tamla Horsford’s death. Tamla Horsford, a black woman from Forsyth County and mother of six, was killed at a predominantly white all-night party in 2018.
GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said the agency had conducted a “thorough investigation” into the case and provided the findings to the office of Forsyth County District Attorney Penny Penn, who confirmed to Forsyth County News that no action was taken. Criminal charges will be filed, saying Horsford’s death was a “tragic accident”.
“There is no evidence that anyone else was responsible for Mrs Horsford’s death or that foul play was involved in any way,” Payne said in a statement. “The overwhelming evidence shows that she died in a tragic accident. Therefore, this office’s involvement in the matter ends here.”
GBI agreed to investigate the case in July 2020 at the request of Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman, who asked the agency to “review previous findings and search for and act upon any new evidence that may emerge. “
“I thank the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for their professionalism in completing their thorough investigation into Mrs. Horsford’s tragic death,” Freeman said in a statement. “Their findings are similar to those of the Sheriff’s Office’s original accidental death investigation. None of this makes up for the loss of a mother and loved one. Our sympathies go out to those who have suffered from this tragedy.”
In February 2019, FCSO investigators said Horsford’s cause of death was an accidental fall and “did not find any evidence or pattern of injury to suggest an assault or foul play.”
Freeman posted the letter to GBI on the FCSO’s Facebook page after nationwide protests against racial inequality revived public interest in Horsford’s death. Signs bearing Horsford’s name appear alongside the names of Black Americans recently killed by police during a protest in downtown Cumming in June 2020. Celebrities like T.I. and 50 Cent posted about Horsford on social media, calling for a new investigation into her death. More than 700,000 people signed a petition on Change.org to reopen Horsford’s case.
In addition, the Horsford family’s attorney, Ralph E. Fernandez, has previously said that Horsford’s death was “very likely” a homicide after his office reviewed the case.
In a letter dated June 5, 2020, to Horsford’s husband Leander, Fernandez said his office found conflicting witness statements, doctored crime scenes, mishandling of evidence and the “unheard of” absence of post-mortem photos, while Horsford’s De’s injury and physical struggle.
“The truth never had a chance here,” Fernandez wrote.
According to the FCSO, the 40-year-old arrived at his North Forsyth home around 10pm. On November 3, 2018, an overnight birthday party with 11 others. They drink “heavy”, watch football, and play cards against humanity.
According to witnesses, Horsford was smoking a cigarette on the home’s back porch around 2 a.m. when others were going to bed. Horsford was found motionless under the porch in the backyard of the home the next morning. The homeowner immediately called 911, according to authorities. Eight minutes later, at 9:07 am, the delegates arrived.
Horsford suffered serious head, neck and torso injuries, according to the 2019 GBI forensic report. She had wounds on her face, wrists, hands and calves. Horsford also had a “right ventricular laceration” in his heart.
GBI toxicology screening also showed an elevated blood alcohol level to 0.238, and traces of THC and the anxiety drug alprazolam were detected in Horsford’s system at the time of her death.
Investigators said Horsford fell about 14 feet from the back porch and died in the impact. Her death was classified as accidental.
After investigators discovered that a witness, Jose Barrera, who worked in the Forsyth County court system, had used his position to obtain reports of the incident, public suspicions began to emerge, which officials called unethical, and resulted in his dismissal.
Online interest in Horsford’s death soared following Barrera’s dismissal, with hundreds using the hashtag #tamlahorsford on social media and questioning different aspects of the case.
Horsford’s family also questioned the FCSO’s investigation, according to an interview with investigator Mike Christian.
“I want to know the truth about what’s going on, because I mean, none of the stories I’ve heard so far make any sense,” Leander Horsford told Christian. “If they don’t make sense, usually they don’t make sense for a reason.”
Christian resigned from the sheriff’s office in October after an internal investigation found he shared sensitive information with a woman with whom he was connected.
The investigation uncovered 26 emails containing sensitive information Christian sent between May 2019 and September 2020, including several that Christian said he should not have shared.