FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — Channel 2 Action News has confirmed the Georgia Bureau of Investigation wants to speak with two women who claim a former Forsyth County deputy sent them crime scene photos and other evidence related to the death of a young mother.
Tamla Horsford died in November 2018 after attending an adults-only slumber party at a home after she fell from a deck.
The sheriff’s office ruled her death accidental, but family and friends believe foul play was involved. Over the summer, the GBI agreed to reopen the case at the request of Sheriff Ron Freeman.
Friday, both women told Petchenik they’d received calls from GBI agents seeking to speak to them about what Corporal Mike Christian shared with them.
Nelly Miles, a spokesperson for the agency, was only able to say they were not releasing investigative details as it is still an open investigation.
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“I mean, I was on the phone with him when he got dispatch to that call,” one of the women told Petchenik last week. “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 also spoke to her while at the Horsford crime scene.
“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.”
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- GBI to reopen investigation into 2018 death of Tamla Horsford
An internal affairs investigation concluded Christian was routinely sending pictures, videos and other sensitive information from cases on which he was working to the women, and the sheriff determined he violated his oath of office and neglected his duties.
Ralph Fernandez, an attorney for the Horsford family, told Petchenik they are appalled by the allegations.
“I’m not surprised,” he told Petchenik. “‘That goes with the territory’ is the way this investigation was handled.”
Fernandez said revelations that a lead detective on the case was so careless with evidence call into question the integrity of the investigation.
“Something needs to be done,” he said. “And luckily, you know, there’s an epiphany in the country. And justice is coming. And justice is coming to Forsyth County.”
The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office sent Petchenik a statement about Fernandez’s concerns:
“This former employee was only one of many Detectives to have worked on this case. This case has been independently reviewed at many levels and in an act of transparency to the family and at the request of the agency, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is currently conducting and independent parallel death investigation.
“Mr. Christian’s personal actions are the reason he is no longer employed by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office. While his personal decisions violated our policies, those actions do not change the professional work other Deputies have done on this case. This agency has always been and will continue to be transparent in our actions, even when we falter.”
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Last week, Christian sent Petchenik a statement about the internal affairs investigation:
“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.”