Gabby Petito Case: Moab, Utah Police Department Probed Over Handling of ‘Domestic’ Incident

As the search for Brian Laundrie continues, officers are scouring past records and statements to reveal any new information about Gabby Petito’s case. This includes a past interaction that the pair had with Moab City police officers in Utah.

While driving near Arches National Park, a witness called in a domestic dispute on August 12. The caller described a man slapping a woman and identified the vehicle as a white van with Florida license plates. Soon after, responding authorities pulled over Laundrie and Petito to investigate the incident. When the two stepped out of the camper, Petito became upset. Meanwhile, Laundrie had visible scratches on his face and hands. Though Laundrie claimed that Petito scratched her, neither one wanted to press charges. Instead, they adamantly stated that they loved each other.

After speaking separately with Laundrie and Petito, officers tried to find a solution that would help mediate the toxic relationship. Instead of placing anyone in cuffs, the cops encouraged Laundrie to check in at a local hotel for the night. That way, Petito could sleep in the camper alone and both could calm down. Hoping a night away from each other would help relieve tension, the officers didn’t think any further action was necessary.

This is precisely what landed the Moab City Police Department under fire following Gabby Petito’s murder. When the department released the video surveillance of the incident, spectators criticized the department for not taking more extreme measures.

“We understand that individuals can view the same situation very different ways,” the department said in a statement, “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.”

Moab Police Department ‘Unaware of Any Breach’ of Policy in Gabby Petito Case

With Laundrie missing, officers are analyzing every component of the case to see if they can find concrete evidence to deem him a lead suspect. However, that can also mean that responding officers will be under the microscope, too. Following reviewal of the surveillance footage, though, the Moab department has yet to find any evidence of misconduct.

“At this time, the City of Moab is unaware of any breach of Police Department policy during this incident,” the statement read.

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

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

When it comes to domestic disputes, officers have to decide whether they have enough to bring in the suspected offender. If not, they have to release the flawed lovers on their way. Unfortunately, in Gabby Petito’s case, Moab police had to choose the latter.