A 911 caller reported Gabby Petito and her boyfriend to the police days before she was last seen. Now their response will be investigated.
The City of Moab told McClatchy News officials are launching a formal investigation into the police response to a "domestic dispute" between Petito and Brian Laundrie.
"At this time, the City of Moab is unaware of any breach of Police Department policy during this incident," the City of Moab told McClatchy News in a statement. "However, the City will conduct a formal investigation and, based on the results, will take any next steps that may be appropriate."
911 call for domestic dispute in Utah
On Aug. 12, a 911 caller said he saw a couple in a white van in a "domestic dispute" when the man started "slapping the girl."
"We drove by and the gentleman was slapping the girl," the caller, whose name hasn't been released by police, said. "They ran up and down the sidewalk, he proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car, and they drove off."
The Moab City Police Department responded to the call the same day. Police pulled the couple's van over in Arches National Park, police bodycam video shows.
Petito is seen visibly upset while talking to the officer who pulled the couple over after Laundrie hit a curb. No charges were filed after police talked to them.
Petito, a 22-year-old who was on a cross-country roadtrip with her boyfriend, was reported missing Sept. 11, less than a month after that 911 call. Her remains were found in a remote part of Grand Teton National Park on Sunday, and the coroner ruled the manner of death a homicide.
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Laundrie was refusing to cooperate with investigators before he too disappeared in Florida. Police have been searching a 25,000-acre swamp for Laundrie, McClatchy News reported. The search continued Thursday as North Port police said they were searching the Carlton Reserve.
Police response under review amid criticism
Since Petito was found dead, the Moab City Police Department has received some criticism for its response a month earlier, city officials said.
"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 actions taken during the incident in Moab," city officials said.
The City of Moab said the investigation will help it make a "thorough, informed evaluation" of the way police responded.
Moab City Police Chief Bret Edge said an "outside party" formally requested an investigation into the Aug. 12 incident, adding that the department takes complaints seriously.
"We are committed to fully addressing these concerns," Edge told McClatchy News in a statement. "In compliance with police department policy, we will conduct an investigation."
Edge said an unaffiliated agency will conduct the investigation on the police department's behalf.
"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," Edge said.
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