Moab police chief on leave as probe into Petito encounter continues

North Port, Florida, resident Brian Laundrie talks with Moab, Utah police officers Aug. 12 as...
North Port, Florida, resident Brian Laundrie talks with Moab, Utah police officers Aug. 12 as they investigate a report he and Gabby Petito were fighting. Petito vanished last month and Laundrie is not talking with investigators. Image taken from body camera footage.(Moab City Police Department)
Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 11:48 AM EDT
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MOAB, Utah (WWSB) - The chief of the Moab, Utah, police department has taken a leave of absence while his department is being investigated for their handling of an encounter with Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito, days before Petito went missing and was later found dead in Wyoming.

The City of Moab confirmed to ABC7 that Moab Police Chief Bret Edge requested leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act, effective Monday, but would not say if Edge’s time off was prompted by the investigation. “We cannot provide any additional details for information,” the email statement said. The investigation will be done by an outside law enforcement agency.

The City of Moab announced Sept. 23 that they were examining the police’s handling of the Aug. 12 incident involving Petito and Laundrie.

A Moab resident called 911 to report the couple were fighting. The 911 recordings reveal a witness told 911 operators he saw Laundrie slap Petito.

After a search of the area, Moab police officers Eric Pratt and Daniel Robbins stopped the couple at the entrance to Arches National Park. The hourlong encounter was recorded on body cameras.

The video shows a weeping, distraught Petito saying she and Laundrie had been fighting that morning. Petito admitted hitting Laundrie during their dispute, while Laundrie denied striking Petito.

In a roadside discussion recorded on police body cameras, officers ultimately determined Petito was the primary aggressor but chose not to charge anyone with domestic abuse. Police separated the couple for the night. Laundrie was taken to a hotel; Petito slept in her converted van the couple was using on their trip.

The couple were allowed to reunite the next morning. By Aug. 25, Petito’s social media documentation on their trip had stopped. Laundrie reappeared in North Port alone Sept. 1 driving Petito’s van. She was reported missing by her parents Sept. 11.

Laundrie was named a “person of interest” in her disappearance. He and his parents refused to cooperate with investigators. On Sept. 17, Brian was reported missing. On Sept 19, Gabby’s body was found in a national park in Wyoming and her death has been ruled a homicide.

On Sept. 22, a federal judge in Wyoming issued an arrest warrant for Laundrie for unauthorized use of a credit card.

The search for Laundrie continues.

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