The head of the Moab Police Department in Utah has taken a leave of absence from his post just days after the city announced an investigation into officers' handling of a possible domestic violence case last month involving Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie.
Bret Edge chose to step away from his position as Moab Police Department Chief on Monday, requesting a leave of absence under the Family Medical Leave Act according to communications director for the City of Moab Lisa Church.
His decision was announced just one week after the city declared the launch of an independent investigation into their officers' handling of a domestic dispute between Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito, just over a month before she was found dead.
They spoke out two days after a body found on September 19 in Grand Teton National Park was confirmed to be Petito, with a coroner ruling her death a homicide.
It was not made clear who will take up the position of police chief in Edge's absence, nor when he would return to his post.
Neither Chief Edge nor Moab Mayor Emily Niehaus has yet responded to a request for comment, while communications director Lisa Church declined to answer further questions regarding the reason for Edge’s absence.
Bret Edge chose to step away from his position as Moab Police Department Chief on Monday, requesting a leave of absence under the Family Medical Leave Act
Moab City Police Department and the City of Moab have launched an investigation into officers' handling of a domestic dispute between Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito a month before she was found dead in Wyoming
Police bodycam footage revealed the moment Utah cops asked missing 'van-life' woman Gabby Petito why she slapped her boyfriend Brian Laundrie in a dramatic incident 13 days before she disappeared on their cross-country trip
Laundrie is seen with scratches on his face which he tells an officer were caused when Petito 'was trying to get the keys from me' and 'hit me with her phone'
City officials released a statement Thursday which said they were 'unaware of any breach of Police Department policy.'
They noted that 'individuals can view the same situation in very different ways' and '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.'
That statement noted that their 'police officers have been both praised and criticized for their response and their resolution of the incident.'
Cops were filmed discussing what had happened with Petito and Laundrie after being called out by onlookers who reported seeing him hit her.
They found Laundrie with scratches to his face, with Petito claiming she'd hit him with a phone while battling her OCD.
Officers deemed her to be the 'primary aggressor' and separated the couple for the night to try and defuse the tension between them, but neither were arrested.
That has subsequently triggered allegations that investigating the incident more deeply might have saved Petito's life, although other's have countered by hailing the cops' calm handling of the couple.
Moab City Police Chief Bret Edge explained in a statement provided to Fox News on Thursday that a request for an investigation into the department's handling of the incident was requested by an outside party.
He said the department will 'identify an unaffiliated law enforcement agency to conduct the formal investigation on our behalf.'
'Should the investigation identify areas for improvement 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 added.
The recorded encounter began after a chilling 911 audio captured a caller in Utah reporting a domestic abuse incident involving Petito and Laundrie that claimed Laundrie slapped her.
In the audio, obtained by DailyMail.com, the male caller tells a Grant County sheriff that a 'gentleman' in a white van with a Florida license plate had slapped a girl in the vehicle before driving away.
The man also mentions the incident had happened 'by Moonflower' - likely referring to the Moonflower Community Cooperative in Moab, where Laundrie and Petito stayed the night of August 11 and where they reportedly were seen having an explosive fight.
'I'm right in the corner of Main Street by Moonflower and we are driving and I'd like to report a domestic dispute. Florida with a white van - Florida license plate, white van,' the man says before being interrupted by the officer, who asks him what he saw exactly.
'They just drove off. They're going towards Main Street. They made a right onto Main Street from Moonflower. We drove by him, a gentleman was slapping the girl,' the man continues.
'He was slapping her?' the sheriff asks.
'Yes. And then we stopped. They ran down an up the sidewalk. He proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car and they drove off,' the man says as the audio ends.
When an officer asks Petito if her boyfriend hit