Moab City Police Department Chief Bret Edge has taken an unexpected leave of absence as of Monday, city officials confirmed. Edge's decision to take a leave comes amid an investigation into allegations of the department's poor handling of the Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie case, according to a report.
Fingers are being pointed at Moab City police for not taking required actions against Laundrie even after reports of him allegedly hitting Petito during their road trip. Laundrie has been missing for around two weeks now, with Petito's body found under mysterious circumstances following her disappearance late last month.
According to reports, Edge decided to go on leave on Monday under the Family Medical Leave Act, a city spokesperson confirmed to Fox News. Officials did not provide information about how long he will be on leave or any additional details, saying they don't comment on personnel issues.
"The city cannot provide any additional details or comments," Lisa Church, Moab City Police Department communications manager, said in a statement.
It is also not known what kind of medical emergency it was that made Edge to decide on going on leave in the middle of an important investigation.
The Moab Police Department has come under scrutiny after an incident with their officers involving Petito and her fiancÃ© Laundrie. Petito was found dead in Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming, on September 19. Her interaction with the officers occurred around one month earlier, on August 12. However, police have so far been unsuccessful in arresting Laundrie.
In the Middle of Controversy
Fingers are being pointed at Moab City Police Department for the poor handling of the Petito and Laundrie case. Edge said last week that the department would seek an independent investigation into a "possible breach of police department policy" during the August 12 response to Petito and Laundrie's interrogation outside of Arches National Park after reports of a domestic assault.
However, there is no indication whether Edge's leave of absence or its timing is in any way connected to the case.
A 911 caller had reportedly told police that he had seen a man slapping a woman outside the co-op, which were Laundrie and Petito. Bodycam footage later released showed a sobbing Petito and a calm Laundrie talking to police.
Police later said they had considered charging Petito with a domestic violence crime after noticing scratches on her boyfriend's face. Cops form the department faced further backlash after they separated the two for the night, but still instead of arresting Laundrie despite a person telling them that he saw him slapping Petito, allowed the couple to continue on their cross-country trip.
Ultimately, the responding officers decided they were dealing with a "mental health crisis" and not a domestic assault, and didn't charge anyone. Moreover, the officers helped Laundrie find a room in a hotel, while Petito slept alone in her van.
Church said last week that it was unaware of any breaches of the police department's policy by the officers investigating the incident after Edge said that he would request for an outside party to investigate the allegations. Church also said that it had not been decided what agency would conduct the review, and no scope or deadline had been determined for the investigation.