FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — A veteran Forsyth County investigator has resigned after an internal affairs investigation found he routinely sent sensitive information about cases he was working on to women with whom he was having affairs, according to documents obtained by Channel 2 Action News.
Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik got a tip about Corp. Mike Christian’s resignation in early December, after two women contacted him and claimed to be carrying on inappropriate relationships with the married detective.
Both agreed to speak to Petchenik after Sheriff Ron Freeman released the findings of the internal affairs investigation, which they say didn’t go far enough.
One of the women told Petchenik she met Christian after he was assigned to investigate a crime committed against her.
“The bottom line is, I called 911, and the county sent a sociopath into my life,” said the woman, who spoke to Petchenik on the condition she could remain anonymous.
Over time, she said the relationship went from professional to friendly and then to more. She said she’d often meet Christian while he was on duty.
The internal affairs report documents one such incident, in which it’s alleged Christian and the woman kissed while she sat in his sheriff’s vehicle.
The woman said Christian called or texted with her for hours while he was on duty, sending her unsolicited crime scene photographs, personal information about victims and other sensitive information.
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One high-profile case, she said, involved the suspicious death of Tamla Horsford, an African-American mother who fell to her death after a night of drinking at an adult slumber party.
Christian was one of the case’s lead detectives.
“I mean, I was on the phone with him when he got dispatched to that call,” she said. “We were just chatting on the phone… and he’s snapping me pictures of her dead body laying (sic) there.”
A second woman, who also agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, told Petchenik that Christian spoke to her while at the Horsford crime scene as well.
“I knew when she died, how she died, the toxicology reports,” the woman told Petchenik. “So he was just throwing this information out there, like it was nothing.”
Both women believe Christian shared the information as a way to keep the women interested in him.
“If I was Tamla Horsford’s family or any of these families… I would be so mad to know that crucial evidence, like in my family member’s case, was being sent to his random girlfriends to make him look cool,” said one of the accusers. “He used his position as a cop and stood behind the badge that gave him power and used that to prey on women.”
“Him sending me crime scene photos and people’s personal information is a huge violation,” the other accuser said.
Over the summer, Forsyth County asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to reopen the Horsford case to determine if her death was more than an accident, as her family and friends have asserted.
GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles told Petchenik Friday that the investigation was still on-going and that the agency was not aware of the allegations facing Christian.
Petchenik reached out to Christian, who left his post at the end of October, and received this statement:
“I am far from a perfect human. I chose to end a long-term extra marital relationship abruptly. This person, out of anger and hurt, chose to go to Sheriff Freeman with a list of alleged misconduct on my part. In 20/20 hindsight, I would not have resigned but stayed for the investigation and taken what punishment was fitting, up to termination. As is, the IA investigation lacks my side of the story and makes me out to be something I am not. All the good I had ever done in sixteen years of law enforcement is gone with this document. I chose my wife of fifteen years over another woman. We are together and undergoing counseling. I made the right decision. I may never drive a patrol car again, but I have the real love of my life, and that is all I need.”
That internal affairs investigation determined Christian violated his oath of office and neglected his duty, and the case has been forwarded to the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, which certifies officers in Georgia. A spokeswoman for Sheriff Ron Freeman sent Petchenik a statement about the allegations:
“Mr. Christian made the decision to resign prior to the completion of the investigation. However, when someone acts as this former employee did, they lose their right to work alongside those deputies and employees who serve with such distinction and heroism daily. The sheriff has made it expressly clear that unethical, illegal or immoral acts will lead to termination from this agency. Every employee has heard this directly from the sheriff. There is no room for this type of conduct here, and the men and women of FCSO, as well as our citizens of Forsyth County, deserve better.”
“I have zero doubt that this will get a thorough investigation,” said Brent Brown, a veteran law enforcement officer who now runs his own private investigation firm, Chesley Brown International. “I would not be the least bit surprised if he finds himself without a certification to work in law enforcement in Georgia, at least in the near future.”
Brown said he believes the sheriff should be exploring criminal charges for Christian.
“They should be showing him the other side of the jail,” Brown told Petchenik. “The fact that he was carrying on these affairs is one horrific thing. But then sharing confidential information about investigations is just too much. It’s very compromising.”
Brown said any case Christian investigated should now be scrutinized for integrity.
“Lawyers don’t usually need any help poking holes, but this certainly gives them a double-barrel shotgun to poke holes in cases,” he said.
Cox Media Group