New audio from 911 dispatchers show that Utah police who responded to a call about a potential domestic violence incident between Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie had been informed that Laundrie was the aggressor.
The audio throws yet another wrench into the wild story that has gripped the nation.
What is the background?
Audio from the 911 call that triggered the Aug. 12 interaction between Utah police and Petito and Laundrie indicated that Laundrie was the aggressor.
The anonymous 911 caller told dispatchers that he had witnessed a “domestic dispute.” The caller told dispatchers, “We drove by and the gentleman was slapping the girl.”
The dispatcher responded, “He was slapping her?”
“Yes,” the caller responded. “And then we stopped. They ran up and down the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car, and they drove off.”
That message seemed not to have been relayed to responding officers. In fact, bodycam footage from one police officer showed that law enforcement thought Petito was the aggressor. At one point, police even photographed parts of Laundrie's body to document evidence of the alleged dispute.
What are the details?
The audio, obtained by Fox News, proves that 911 dispatchers relayed that the witness had identified Laundrie as the aggressor.
“RP [reporting party] states seeing a male hit a female. Domestic. He got into a white Ford transit van. Has a black ladder on the back…Florida plate of QFTG03,” the dispatcher said.
“The van turned right onto Main Street from Moonflower Market and headed north onto Main Street,” the dispatcher continued.
When a responding officer asked for information on the 911 caller, the dispatcher responded, “Phone number is [redacted], name's [redacted].”
“I'm not sure [inaudible], but the female who got hit, they both — the male and the female — both got into the van and headed north,” the dispatcher reiterated.
What happens now?
Attention will now turn to the responding law enforcement officers and why they treated Petito like the aggressor despite Laundrie being identified as the one who assaulted Petito.
The City of Moab has requested an external investigation into how officers responded.
The city said in a statement, CNN reported:
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 protocol. At this time, the City of Moab is unaware of any breach of Police Department policy during this incident. However, the City will conduct a formal investigation and, based on the results, will take any next steps that may be appropriate.
Utah attorney Brett Tolman, a former U.S. attorney for the District of Utah, told Fox News the officers involved in the stop will probably face disciplinary action.
“I think they will find that they sort of manipulated the situation to not take someone into custody,” Tolman said. “I think the fact that they had another eyewitness that is not involved in it, and is objective, and said ‘he hit her' … you're going to have a majority of officers take him into custody.”
Utah law, in fact, mandates an arrest or citation in situations like the alleged domestic incident between Petito and Laundrie.
“[W]hen a peace officer responds to a domestic violence call and has probable cause to believe that an act of domestic violence has been committed, the peace officer shall arrest without a warrant or shall issue a citation to any person that the peace officer has probable cause to believe has committed an act of domestic violence,” the Utah statute reads.
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