ATLANTA — Authorities have reopened an investigation into the mysterious death of a Black mother in metro Atlanta.
Police ruled Tamla Horsford's death at an adult sleepover party in 2018 as accidental. But amid renewed discussions about race, politics, and equal treatment under the law, the case has sparked a public outcry. Celebrities joined more than half a million people calling for justice.
CNN's Lynda Kinkade reports that Horsford's family is now speaking out.
With a beaming smile and a sparkle in her eye - Tamla Horsford was a ray of light, according to her family. A mother of five boys who put everyone else first.
"Supermom. Supermom. She made sure she could provide for them. She was always the type of person who would stand up for the little guy," Summer St. Jour Jones, Tamla Horsford's sister, said.
Now, her tragic death is seeing renewed cries for justice - in the midst of a nationwide movement.
"It's unfortunate that it has to take other people's heartbreak and other people's loss for the proper attention to be given this case involving my sister," St. Jour Jones said.
In November 2018, Horsford went to a friend's sleepover birthday party at a home in Forsyth County. The next morning - the 40 year old was found in her pajamas unresponsive in the backyard.
Tamla Horsford pictures from the party
Until now, her family has not spoken out publicly. Their grief still as raw as the night Horsford died.
"It's just hard for me to talk about her," St. Jour Jones said.
The Forsyth County Sheriff's Office initially ruled Horsford's death an accident - concluding she fell from a second story balcony.
The autopsy uncovered a blood alcohol level of .23 - nearly three times the legal driving limit in Georgia. Traces of Xanax and marijuana were also found.
"Never ever ever have I seen my sister sloppy drunk and incoherent. So I doubt that she would pick a sleep-over with people she was just getting to know to start behaving that way," St. Jour Jones said.
The attorney for Horsford's family, Ralph Fernandez, said despite repeated requests, police never provided any autopsy photos. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said he didn't follow procedure. Fernandez said that's not true.
When asked how unusual is it to request autopsy photos and not be given them, Fernandez said: "Uhh, it's never happened … It defies logic."
[Editor's note: On Tuesday, Sept. 8, a spokesperson for the GBI told 11Alive News that the Horsford investigation "remains active and ongoing." As for the autopsy photos, "There was some discussion about the autopsy photographs but that has since been resolved. Mr. Fernandez’ request for the autopsy photos has been fulfilled."]
And he said that's not the only issue that defies logic.
"The placement of the body, the multitude of injuries - what I would consider to be defensive injuries. The inexplicable post-mortem bleeding," Fernandez described.
Photos: Tamla Horsford
The sheriff's office said it "conducted a thorough and comprehensive investigation."
“There were numerous inconsistencies in a series of statements. The disposal of evidence, the relationships between the parties," Fernandez said.
Across the U.S., the case has sparked a huge petition, with celebrities like Kim Kardashian and 50 Cent also calling attention to the cause.
"I think people are just tired of seeing loved ones being taken so senselessly," Fernandez said.
After the public outcry, Georgia authorities re-opened the investigation at the request of the sheriff's office, but the family is not satisfied.
Elizabeth Potts, Tamla Horsford's mother said, “we just want justice, the boys, I just want justice.
“We need answers that make sense. None of this makes sense. None of it,” her sister St. Jour Jones said.