Officials in Utah are investigating the Moab City Police Department’s handling of the “domestic dispute” between Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie as a possible “breach of police department policy.”
Moab police have come under fire for stopping the young couple on Aug. 12 on reports of a possible domestic assault — separating the pair for the night but allowing them to continue on their cross-country trip, CNN said.
Petito, 22, disappeared about two weeks later and was found dead Sunday in Wyoming.
“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 protocols,” city officials said in a statement, CNN reported.
“At this time, the City of Moab is unaware of any breach of Police Department policy during this incident,” the statement said. “However, the City will conduct a formal investigation and, based on the results, will take any next steps that may be appropriate.”
Police questioned the couple following a report of a domestic incident at the Moonflower Community Cooperative and pulled the pair over outside of Arches National Park.
A 911 caller told police he saw a man slapping a woman outside the co-op.
Bodycam footage shows a hysterical Petito and a calm Laundrie talking to police, with the cops considering charges against Petito after seeing scratches on Laundrie’s face.
Instead, the officers said the couple agreed to spend the night apart — secured a hotel room for Laundrie while Petito slept in their van. The couple told police they were in love and didn’t want to press charges, according to a police report.
Moab officials now want to determine if the officers erred by letting the pair go on their way more than two weeks earlier.
“We understand that individuals can view the same situation very different ways,” the statement said, “and we recognize how the death of Miss Petito more than two weeks later in Wyoming might lead to speculation, in hindsight, about actions taken during the incident in Moab.
“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.”
A National Park Service ranger who responded to the traffic stop later said she told Petito that the relationship seemed “toxic” and urged the Long Island native to reconsider it.
“I was imploring with her to re-evaluate the relationship,” Ranger Melissa Hulls said this week, “asking her if she was happy in the relationship with him and basically saying this was an opportunity for her to find another part, make a change in her life.”
“It wasn’t a good day for anybody,” Hulls said. “We thought we were making the right decision when we left them.”
However, the couple continued on their trip together.
In what may have been one of the last times she was seen alive, witnesses recalled Laundrie “aggressively” confronting the staff at a Wyoming restaurant on Aug. 27, storming out and returning four times.
Petito came back in to apologize for his conduct.
Her body was found Sunday at the Bridger-Teton National Forest, about 30 miles away from the restaurant in Jackson Hole. Laundrie returned to the couple’s home in Florida alone on Sept. 1.
He was identified as a person of interest in her death, but disappeared last week and is now the subject of a massive police manhunt.
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