Atlanta officer on administrative leave after sexual assault allegation

Gabriel Duarte

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Gabriel Duarte

An Atlanta police officer has been placed on administrative leave after “an allegation of misconduct,” spokesman Carlos Campos confirmed to AJC.com.

Gabriel Duarte, who joined the department in March 2016, was put on leave Thursday after police Chief Erika Shields learned of the allegations, Campos confirmed in a statement.

Channel 2 Action News reported that a woman is alleging that Duarte tried to sexually assault her in the back of his patrol car. The 22-year-old, who did not want to be identified, said the incident began when she was riding home from work with a man she didn’t know around 3 a.m. Thursday.

The police report, obtained by AJC.com, said Duarte attempted to pull over a Chevy Impala that allegedly ran a red light. The male driver sped off and crashed into a tree on Connell Avenue, the report said, and the man ran away, while the woman stayed near the vehicle.

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Duarte arrived, handcuffed her and put her into his patrol car, the report said.

She told Duarte the man’s name was Ray, and that they had met at the Goldrush Showbar on Metropolitan Parkway, the report said. A cellphone and rifle were taken as evidence from the vehicle.

“He said I was in the wrong by even being in the vehicle,” she told Channel 2.

Instead of taking her to the Fulton County Jail, she told Channel 2 he drove to a vacant parking lot near her home. She said he then proposed that she could have sex with him instead of going to jail.

“He just started touching on me and feeling on me — trying to kiss me,” she said. “He wanted me to have sex with him.”

In the report, Duarte said she was released “and was transported to her residence with no injuries reported.”

Shields’ statement said, in part: “We are taking these allegations seriously and have opened an investigation into the matter. We will share the findings with the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office to determine if any criminal acts were committed ... He is currently without enforcement powers and will remain so until the investigation is complete. There is nothing more important to us than upholding the trust placed in our officers by the public and we have a duty to thoroughly pursue the facts of this case.”

Duarte had no prior disciplinary record with the department, Campos said.

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