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Police officer charged for concealing death of 16-year-old

By Sarah May
|
February 18, 2023

In a shocking case out of Georgia, a now-former police officer in the Atlanta suburb of Doraville was arrested in connection with the alleged concealment of the death of a missing teenager whose remains were discovered last week, as NBC News reports.

Miles Bryant, 22, has since been fired from the Doraville police force and now faces formal charges of concealing the death of another person and of falsely reporting a crime.

Missing teen found dead

Susana Morales was reported missing back on July 26, 2022 after reportedly leaving her Norcross home on foot, headed to a friend's house, as the Georgia Sun noted.

Morales' family members indicated that the girl had texted around 9:40 p.m., saying she was headed home, and while cell phone data showed her to have been walking in that direction, police suggested that she may have then gotten into a vehicle.

By 10:21 of that evening, phone data placed her near Oak Loch Trace and Steve Reynolds Boulevard, but that was the last place from which any pings were received, and Morales never returned home.

Ultimately, as Fox 5 in Atlanta reported earlier this month, remains found along Highway 316 in Gwinnett County were conclusively identified as belonging to Morales.

Bryant arrested

Arrested last week while off duty from his job with the Doraville Police Department, Bryant is currently being held at the Gwinnett Detention Center without bond.

According to Atlanta NBC affiliate WXIA, arrest warrants in the case have revealed details of Bryant's alleged involvement in Morales' case and give some insight into why he was named a suspect.

The warrants indicate that Bryant, like Morales, lived on Windscape Village Lane in Norcross, and police believe that he dumped the deceased girl's naked body in a wooded area.

Further, Bryant is accused of having given a false police report on July 27 in which he stated that his own car had been burglarized and that a gun that was inside it was taken as a result of the break-in.

Prosecution underway

Bryant made a court appearance on Tuesday in Gwinnett County, during which the charges against him were read.

The accused stood silent for the duration of the hearing, and reports indicate that he has yet to obtain an attorney.

According to a Facebook post from the Doraville Police, Bryant is no longer employed with the law enforcement agency, with the department referring to him as a “now former police officer.”

The message read, “The City of Doraville and its Police Department are fully cooperating with the Gwinnett Police Department in its investigation of Mr. Bryant. Our prayers rest with the family and friends of Susana Morales and everyone else affected by this tragedy.”

Protesters level concerns

Though the case against Bryant is still in its earliest stages, the death and subsequent, tragic discovery of Morales has prompted complaints from the local Hispanic community in Gwinnett County over what they believe is unfair discrimination on the part of law enforcement, as Fox 5 in Atlanta noted separately.

After Morales' skeletal remains were found and identified, a group of concerned citizens gathered at the Gwinnett County Police Department to accuse officials of failing to take cases involving Hispanic residents as seriously as they do other matters.

Protester Arely Guerra said, “When a Hispanic person goes to the department to make a report, I don't want them to label us as...'They are just gang members,' 'They'll be fine.' 'Oh, they're Hispanic girls, they just ran away,' or 'Oh, they are Hispanic family, they always get rowdy.'”

In response to those allegations, Gwinnett County Police officials stated, “As a department, we are committed to serving our community through the delivery of professional law enforcement services in an unbiased and compassionate manner,” and hopefully their work relating to Morales' case ultimately results in the justice her friends and family deserve.