- Tony Plohetski American-Statesman Staff, KVUE News
An Austin Fire Department arson investigator has been charged with four crimes — sexual assault, another felony and two misdemeanors — and was booked Wednesday into the Travis County Jail, according to court records.
Lt. Marcus Reed is accused of using his position as a law enforcement officer to lure a woman into his city-owned truck in March and assaulting her.
Reed faces life in prison for the sexual assault charge. He also faces a felony charge of misuse of official information, and a grand jury has indicted him on misdemeanor charges of abuse of official capacity and official oppression.
Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr said in a statement Wednesday that she would be suspending Reed without pay at 9 a.m. Thursday.
“Once his case has worked its way through the legal system, I will determine any action that needs to be taken with regard to his employment with AFD,” the statement said.
According to a search warrant affidavit released in September, the incident began as the woman was driving on the Interstate 35 frontage road near St. Elmo Road in South Austin. She got into an argument with her female passenger, who took her keys out of the car’s ignition and caused the car to block traffic, the document says.
The woman said that a truck pulled up behind her with its emergency lights activated and that the officer got the keys from her passenger, who had wandered away.
According to the woman, the officer told her to get in his truck because “she needed to go with him to look for the passenger to make sure no one was hurt” and instructed her to leave her purse and cellphone behind.
He then drove the woman, who had a pending criminal charge that authorities not described, somewhere else and assaulted her, the affidavit said.
“He continued to say that she needed a miracle” and that “you’re going to help me relax and I’m going to help you,” the document says.
When she made her report, the affidavit says, the woman helped identify Reed because he had told her about a call earlier that night, and investigators used dispatch information to determine who had been at that location. She also picked him out from a photo lineup.
Police said they found that Reed had done a criminal check on the woman after she said the encounter happened.
Reed is the second Austin Fire Department lieutenant to face criminal charges in recent months. Former Lt. James Baker was recently charged with placing a hidden camera in a women’s changing area at a fire station.