Doraville cop charged in Gwinnett teen’s death was reprimanded during employment

Miles Bryant, a now-former Doraville police officer, is charged in the death of Susana Morales, Gwinnett County police said.

Credit: Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office

Credit: Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office

Miles Bryant, a now-former Doraville police officer, is charged in the death of Susana Morales, Gwinnett County police said.

A former officer tied to the death of a Gwinnett County girl was reprimanded multiple times during his 21-month employment with Doraville police and accused by a woman of attempting to break into her home. But the 22-year-old was also regarded as “positive, dependable and a hard worker” by a former employer, documents from the police department show.

Miles Bryant was arrested Monday on one count of concealing the death of another and one count of false report of a crime, Gwinnett police announced. His charges stem from the death of 16-year-old Susana Morales, a Meadowcreek High School student whose body was found last week near Dacula after she had been missing since July 26.

A warrant application states that Bryant “lives in close proximity to victim and dumped her naked body in the woods.” Police have not said when or how she died, or if Bryant has been tied to her initial disappearance.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained copies of Bryant’s application to the Doraville Police Department on Friday, which include a cleared background check, employer references, employment history, reprimands and an incident report filed against him. He has since been fired.

“Although the evidence they described to me was troubling, I have no idea whether Bryant actually did the things he’s accused of doing by way of these charges. ... If the arrest was for a simple DUI or a less-than-clear-cut domestic violence-related incident, my inclination would be to place the officer on administrative leave and await completion of the criminal investigation” an obtained copy of a Tuesday email written by Doraville police Chief Chuck Atkinson to City Manager Chris Eldridge states. “My decision to move forward with his termination wasn’t based on any finding that he committed these acts. ... his arrest puts the department under too much of a cloud to justify keeping him on leave while all this runs its course.”

While working for Doraville police, Bryant received a 12-hour suspension after being “disrespectful” toward another officer, a document reveals. On Nov. 23, 2021, Bryant was accused of approaching another officer’s patrol vehicle at a gas station. Bryant, who was off duty at the time, walked with his hands “‘pressed out’ from his chest as if he had a firearm and stated words to the effect of ‘Keep your head on a swivel’” to a fellow officer sitting inside his patrol vehicle, according to the document.

That officer began to un-holster his firearm, but the situation was de-escalated after he recognized Bryant, the document states.

In an email Bryant sent to the sergeant investigating the incident, he apologized and claimed he “didn’t think twice about (his) actions that night due to the fact (he) had interacted in a joking or playful manner in the past with the officers.”

A year later, Bryant received a written reprimand after failing to submit a missing person report within the two-hour limit as mandated by the National Crime Information Center, an administration document shows. The initial runaway call was made Oct. 2 and the report was not submitted until Oct. 5. Bryant’s supervisor was also reprimanded for not following up with him to ensure the report was completed, officials said.

Although Bryant was never charged in a Dec. 11 incident, a woman filed a report with the Gwinnett Police Department after a neighbor told her “a person tried to break into her apartment,” an incident report shows. Doraville police Sgt. Sherman contacted the woman, who stated she believed Bryant was attempting “to get inside of the residence,” an internal document shows. She also added that she “has known and been close to (Bryant) since elementary school.”

The woman was able to provide camera footage of the incident, which the document states showed Bryant knocking on the door and turning the knob, “but doing nothing egregious.”

Bryant told Sherman he stopped by to check on the woman after “she made a questionable post on social media that worried him.” Sherman concluded in his report that the woman “misinterpreted” Bryant’s gesture “to check on her well-being.” Bryant was told Jan. 4 by Doraville police to no longer contact the woman, an email sent to the police chief by another officer reveals.

Susana Morales, 16, went missing the evening of July 26. Her body was found just over six months later, more than 20 miles from where she was last seen.

Credit: Rosana Hughes /

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Credit: Rosana Hughes /

Prior to his employment with Doraville police, Bryant worked for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office as a jailer from March 2020 until resigning in May 2021. He also served in the National Guard since March 2018 as a military police officer and Army specialist, his application to Doraville states.

Bryant’s previous National Guard supervisor, Sgt. Eva Galios, described him as “an excellent soldier” and as someone who “always steps up and takes the initiative,” the application reveals. Another employer, who hired Bryant to provide security at St. Marlo Country Club, described him as “a hard worker” and “always strived to be better,” documents show.

The warrant application regarding Bryant’s involvement in Morales’ death states that there was no known relationship between the two. The teenager was reported missing July 26 when she did not return home as expected, Gwinnett police previously said. She’d been at a friend’s house in the Norcross area and texted her mother letting her know she was walking home, but she never arrived.

Morales’ body was found Feb. 6 more than 20 miles from the area where she was last seen near her home. A passerby found the skeletal remains near Drowning Creek, not far from Ga. 316, where they had been exposed to the elements for months.

The teen’s mother, Maria Bran, told the AJC she believes her daughter may have been found sooner, even if only her body, if the case wasn’t treated like a runaway. The Gwinnett police department has defended its handling of the investigation, stating that detectives followed all leads beginning the night she was reported missing.

“I promised my daughter that she will have earthly justice because the divine, that is up to God,” Bran said. “That is what we’re doing: standing united to seek justice.”

— Staff writer Henri Hollis contributed to this article.