(UTAH) — The city of Moab, Utah, will launch an investigation into the Moab City Police Department’s handling of an incident involving Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie on Aug. 12.
The city said in a statement that the department’s police officers “have been both praised and criticized for their response and their resolution of the incident involving Ms. Petito and Mr. Laundrie.”
Cops had responded to a call to Grand County Dispatch about a possible domestic dispute between Petito and Laundrie. Body camera footage of that incident was later shared showing Petito visibly distraught.
“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 city said in a statement to ABC News.
Moab City Police Chief Bret Edge said, “The police department will identify an unaffiliated law enforcement agency to conduct the formal investigation on our behalf.”
Moab city officials said, “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 said that the police department “has clear standards for officer conduct during a possible domestic dispute and our officers are trained to follow those standards and protocol.”
An outside party filed a request with the police department asking for a formal investigation into the Aug. 12 incident, Edge said in a statement.
Edge said the department welcomes the investigation and if the probe identifies 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.”
Body camera images from the Aug. 12 incident show Petito and Laundrie talking to an officer after her 2012 Ford Transit was pulled over by Moab police. In one image, she appears to be crying while sitting in the back of a police vehicle.
The couple told police they were arguing and that Petito had slapped Laundrie, according to the police report. The couple also stated to police that Laundrie did not hit Petito.
In a statement earlier this week, Moab police said that “insufficient evidence existed to justify criminal charges” in that incident.
Petito told police she suffers from severe anxiety and other medical conditions, which were redacted from the police report, and that the couple’s argument had been building for days. Police labeled the incident as a “mental/emotional break” rather than a domestic assault, according to the police report.
The incident took place about two weeks before she last spoke with her family.
Petito, 22, disappeared during a cross-country trip with Laundrie and was reported missing by her parents on Sept. 11 after they hadn’t heard from her in two weeks.
Authorities confirmed Tuesday that a body discovered Sunday in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming belonged to Petito.
Now a search is underway for Laundrie, 23, around North Port, Florida. Investigators said he returned to his home on Sept. 1 without Petito but had her 2012 Ford Transit.
He has been named as a “person of interest” in the case. He hasn’t been seen since Tuesday, Sept. 14, police said.
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