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Moab to investigate how police handled incident involving Petito, Laundrie

Posted at 12:13 PM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 19:13:50-04

MOAB, Utah — The City of Moab announced it will still investigate how the city's police department dealt with an incident last month involving Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie.

LISTEN: 911 call details Laundrie 'slapping' Petito during Moab altercation

"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 in a statement. "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."

Moab City Police Chief Bret Edge said the investigation request came from an outside party and will be conducted by an unaffiliated law enforcement agency.

On Aug. 12, nearly two weeks before Petito's final social media post, police in Moab received a 911 call reporting a domestic dispute between the couple near the Moonflower Community Cooperative. In the call, the witness claimed "the gentlemen was slapping the girl" during the altercation.

READ: 'Why do you have to be so mean?' witness heard Petito ask Laundrie during incident

However, after police caught up with the couple outside Arches National Park, an officer is heard on body cam video saying Petito was the aggressor in the confrontation, an observation shared in a police report that was later filed.

"The male tried to create distance by telling Gabbie to go take a walk to calm down, she didn’t want to be separated from the male, and began slapping him," the police report said. "He grabbed her face and pushed her back as she pressed upon him and the van, he tried to lock her out and succeeded except for his driver’s door, she opened that and forced her way over him and into the vehicle before it drove off."

An officer also commented that Petito was "crying uncontrollably" in the passenger seat of the van.

WATCH: Travel blogger captured video of Petito van during Wyoming trip

Believing the situation was more of a mental health crisis instead of a domestic assault, one of the officers decided to separate the couple that night, with Gabby staying in the van and Laundrie in a hotel.

Petito's remains were discovered Sunday in the Bridger-Teton National Forest and positively identified Wednesday. Police in Florida have been actively searching for Laundrie since he disappeared last week.