- Moab, Utah, is probing how police handled an incident between Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie.
- The domestic incident that occurred on August 12th took place while they were traveling cross-country.
- Petito was found dead in Wyoming, and Laundrie remains missing. She was last seen in Florida.
The city of Moab, Utah, is launching an investigation into the Moab City Police Department’s handling of the domestic incident between Gabby Petito and her fiancé Brian Laundrie in the Beehive State in August — fewer than three weeks before authorities believe she was killed.
In a statement to Insider on Friday, the city explained that during the past week the police department’s officers “have been both praised and criticized for their response and their resolution of the incident involving Ms. Petito and Mr. Laundrie.”
“The Moab City Police Department has clear standards for officer conduct during a possible domestic dispute and our officers are trained to follow those standards and protocol,” the city said.
It added: “At this time, the City of Moab is unaware of any breach of Police Department policy during this incident. However, the City will conduct a formal investigation and, based on the results, will take any next steps that may be appropriate.”
The investigation is in connection to an August 12 incident between Petito and Laundrie while the two were on their “van life” cross-country road trip to national parks out West.
Officers from the Moab Police department responded to the call about a domestic dispute between the couple and pulled them over near Arches National Park.
The 22-year-old Petito was visibly upset and the 23 year old Laundrie seemed calm. According to a report by police and body camera footage of officers, Petito slapped Laundrie.
A witness also told police that he saw the pair arguing over a phone and said that when Laundrie got into the van he and Petito were traveling in, “he saw what appeared to him as Gabrielle hitting Brian in the arm and then climbing through the driver’s window as if Brian had locked her out and she was trying to find a way in.”
But in a 911 call about the same incident, a witness can be heard telling dispatchers with the Grand County Sheriff’s Office that he saw a man “slapping the girl.”
“He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car, and they drove off,” the 911 caller said, according to the audio.
The 911 call was mentioned by the Moab city in its report on the investigation.
“With the weeks-long search for Ms. Petito across the western US, news that a call to Grand County Dispatch on Aug. 12 reported a possible domestic dispute between Ms. Petito and Brian Laundrie here in Moab has naturally led to questions from the media and the public about the call,” The city stated.
Officers are seen pondering whether to accuse Petito of domestic violence in body-camera footage taken by police officers. They decided not to pursue Petito’s charges because she said she didn’t mean to hurt Laundrie. Laundrie was reported to have minor injuries to his right arm and face.
Instead, police suggested that the pair spend the night apart.
“We understand that individuals can view the same situation in very different ways, and we recognize how the death of Ms. Petito more than two weeks later in Wyoming might lead to speculation, in hindsight, about actions taken during the incident in Moab,” the city of Moab said.
“The purpose of the City’s formal investigation is to gather the underlying facts and evidence necessary to make a thorough, informed evaluation of such actions,” It said.
Moab City Police Chief Bret Edge said in a statement that an “outside party” filed a request with the department asking for a formal investigation into the August 12 incident.
“We take all complaints seriously and we are committed to fully addressing these concerns,” Edge stated. “In compliance with police department policy, we will conduct an investigation. The police department will identify an unaffiliated law enforcement agency to conduct the formal investigation on our behalf.”
The chief continued: “Should the investigation identify areas for improvement we will take that information to heart, learn from it, and make changes if needed to ensure we are providing the best response and service to our community.”
Petito’s body was found in a remote campsite in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest on September 19. A coroner’s preliminary findings have ruled her death a homicide.
Laundrie, still missing, has been identified as a person of concern in connection to her disappearance.
According to the FBI, Laundrie was issued an arrest warrant by a Wyoming federal court this week in connection with the case.