Months earlier, an African-American teenager, who was caught trying to sever a bike lock on the campus from what turned out to be his bicycle, claimed Harvard police screamed racial obscenities at him.
Gates has been a member of the Harvard faculty since 1991 and holds one of 20 "university professors" positions at the school. He also was named by Time magazine as one of the 25 most influential Americans in 1997.
"I was obviously very concerned when I learned on Thursday about the incident," Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust said in a statement. "He and I spoke directly and I have asked him to keep me apprised."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.