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Gabby Petito case: Moab to hold internal inquiry on its police department

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MOAB, UTAH — More than a month after an incident involving Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie near Arches National Park, area authorities are looking at how it was handled.

Following release of body camera recordings from Moab City Police, and the subsequent release of the 911 call, there has been pressure on authorities.

A 911 caller said Laundrie, 23, had been slapping Petito, 22. A Moab City Police officer pulled over the couple just outside Arches National Park and said on the video he had seen her slapping him.

How much of the 911 call information was given to on-scene police has led to questions about the reality of what was taking place.

“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 news release states.

It notes the department is “unaware of any breach” of policy during the Aug. 12 situation.

The couple was told to sleep separately that night; no arrests were made.

“However, the city will conduct a formal investigation and, based on the results, will take any next steps that may be appropriate.”

Petito’s body was discovered Sunday in the Spreading Creek area of Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming after her parents reported her missing Sept. 11; Laundrie’s parents reported him missing Friday, but said they hadn’t seen him since Sept. 14 when he reportedly went hiking in the backwoods of Sarasota County.

Laundrie returned to North Port in Petito’s van on Sept. 1; on Tuesday, Petito’s death was ruled a homicide.

Laundrie is called a “person of interest” at this point in Petito’s disappearance. Experts have started criticizing the police work, including how the traffic stop was conducted and how Laundrie was able to leave his North Port home without area police being aware.

“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 the actions taken during the incident in Moab,” the news release stated. “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.”

The department will give any new information gathered to law enforcement agencies investigating Gabby Petito’s death, which includes the FBI and North Port Police Department. Moab officers will be made available to answer any questions, according to the news release.

“Ultimately, we depend on our law enforcement officers to make the best possible decisions in evaluation every incident individually, based on the circumstances they encounter in that immediate moment,” it stated.


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