Authorities looking into Black woman’s death at 2018 party in Georgia

Published: Sep. 8, 2020 at 9:13 AM EDT
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(CNN) - Authorities have re-opened an investigation into the mysterious death of a black mother in north Georgia.

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.

With a beaming smile and a sparkle in her eye, Horsford was a ray of light, a mother of five boys who put everyone else first, according to her family.

“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,” said Summer St. Jour Jones, Horsford’s sister.

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 north Georgia. The next morning, the 40-year-old was found in her pajamas, unresponsive in the back yard.

Her family had not previously spoken out publicly, their grief still as raw as the night Horsford died.

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 sleepover with people she was just getting to know to start behaving that way,” St. Jour Jones said.

Ralph Fernandez, the attorney for Horsford’s family, 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.

He said it’s unusual to request autopsy photos and not be given them. “It’s never happened. It defies logic.”

Fernandez 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,” he said.

The sheriff’s office said it “conducted a thorough and comprehensive investigation,” but Fernandez believes there’s a strong possibility Horsford’s death was a homicide.

“There were numerous inconsistencies in a series of statements, the disposal of evidence, the relationships between the parties,” he 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.

“We just want justice, the boys, I just want justice,” said Elizabeth Potts, Horsford’s mother.

“We need answers that make sense. None of this makes sense. None of it,” St. Jour Jones said.

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