The family claims that by failing to provide police with the necessary training to deal with domestic violence cases, the Moab City Police Department failed to safeguard Petito from Brian Laundrie.
Gabby Petito’s family files lawsuit
The family of Gabby Petito informed Utah officials on Monday that they intended to launch a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming that when police investigated a confrontation between Gabby and her boyfriend last year, they failed to realise their daughter was in danger of her life. Authorities claim that the altercation took place weeks before the boyfriend killed her during a cross-country van trip.
The family of Gabby Petito filed a wrongful death complaint against the Moab, Utah, police on Monday, blaming them for neglecting to safeguard Gabby and adequately look into her domestic abuse case.
The case, which demands $50 million in damages, was filed close to Petito’s death anniversary.
When Petito went missing in September 2021, she was 22 years old. She and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, were travelling cross-country for many months while living in a van.
Why Gabby Petito’s family files lawsuit? – Exact reason
On September 19, 2021, Petito’s body was discovered in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest. Her death was classified as a homicide by “manual strangulation” because it was discovered that she had been dead for at least three weeks. In October 2021, Laundrie, who had been identified as a person of interest in the investigation, was discovered dead in Florida’s Carlton Reserve from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
In notes that were discovered after Petito’s passing, Laundrie acknowledged killing him.
The Moab City Police Department, its former Chief Bret Edge, ex-Assistant Chief Braydon Palmer, and Officers Eric Pratt and Daniel Robbins were named in the notice of intent filing, which must be made before suing a government entity.
Gabby Petito’s family claim
According to the notice of claim, on August 12, 2021, Petito was the victim of domestic violence at the hands of Brian Laundrie at the tourist destination of Moab. The authorities made the pair spend a night apart before finally letting them go.
As the inquiry progressed, footage from a police body camera that day of Petito, 22, looking extremely disturbed, prompted concerns about whether a different police approach could have saved her death.
In a statement announcing the submission of the notice of claim, attorney James McConkie claimed that Gabby would still be alive today “if the cops had been properly educated and followed the law.”
Before suing a government entity, a notice of claim must be filed, and according to the family’s claim, the case will want $50 million in damages.
Asked about the accusation on Monday by phone and email, Moab officials did not answer right away.
A month after that traffic encounter, Petito went missing. Her strangled body was found on September 19 in Wyoming, on the outskirts of Grand Teton National Park.
After being identified as the only person of interest in her killing, Laundrie, 23, later killed himself in Florida. Long Island, New York, was where Petito and Landrie were born.
Since Petito’s disappearance attracted international notice, amateur sleuths have been scouring social media for leads. It also brought authorities and the media under scrutiny, who have both come under fire for prioritising missing white women over missing women of colour.
Police report about Petito
An inquiry for comment from NBC News was not promptly answered by the Moab City Police Department. A Moab city official stated that the municipality does not comment on ongoing legal disputes.
The lawsuit will focus on a police contact with Petito and Laundrie that occurred on August 12, 2021, while they were travelling in Utah, just before Laundrie passed away.
Following Petito’s disappearance, that encounter generated media attention since body camera footage showed a very upset Petito. The police report states that Petito admitted to hitting Laundrie and slapping him before telling them he had grabbed her face.
But in the end, Petito and Laundrie both stated that they were in love with one another and did not wish to file a complaint.
Reports lacked details of injury Petito suffered
A January 2018 independent assessment found that the cops handled that case incorrectly, misclassifying it as domestic violence rather than a mental/emotional “break,” and failing to provide sufficient details in their reports.
The independent review discovered that their accounts of Petito’s injuries lacked specifics or supporting evidence, and nobody seems to have questioned Laundrie about a scrape on Petito’s cheek.
The Petito family’s attorneys argue in the new document that if the police officers involved in that incident had received the necessary training, which included instruction on how to conduct a thorough lethality assessment and identify signs of abuse, they would have known that “Gabby was a victim of intimate partner violence” and required “immediate protection.”
Laundrie and Petito were pulled over in that incident after cops noticed their van speeding, crossing a double yellow line, and colliding with a curb close to Arches National Park. Laundrie was seen “slapping” Petito, according to a witness who alerted the police.
Lawyers for the Petito family statement
Separately interrogating Petito and Laundrie was Officer Daniels and Robbins.
When Gabby was questioned about her altercation with Laundrie, court documents stated that she “displayed the classic hallmarks of an abused partner” by trying to take the blame and claiming that she hit him first and didn’t want to be separated from him. Robbins claimed in his report that he had noticed cuts on Gabby’s cheek and arm.
An unreleased new photo, according to the Petito family’s attorneys, shows a close-up of Gabby’s face with “blood smeared on her cheek and left eye.”
When confronted by police, Laundrie admitted to removing Gabby’s phone and told Officer Robbins that he did so in order to prevent getting slapped. He also claimed that he didn’t have a phone. But later on in the same interview, according to the document, he took his own phone out of his pocket.
The contradictions in Brian’s account of the events were not questioned by the officers. Instead, they came to the conclusion that Brian was a probable victim of domestic violence and that Gabby was the main aggressor, according to the affidavit.
The officers would have been compelled to send a report to prosecutors in accordance with Utah state law regarding domestic violence, but they did not do so because the incident was incorrectly labelled as disorderly conduct, according to the independent evaluation of the police encounter.
According to the filing, Officer Pratt called Assistant Chief Palmer for advice on how to handle the matter and was told to carefully examine the assault statute and determine whether the circumstances met the requirements of the law.
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According to the lawsuit, Pratt’s decision that Utah law only recognises assault if the perpetrator meant to do bodily harm is an inaccurate interpretation of the law. Gabby denied hitting Laundrie with the intent to injure him when Pratt questioned her about it.
In the end, authorities advised the pair to spend the night apart and no charges were brought.
While the whole evidence has not yet been made public, according to James McConkie, one of the lawyers hired in the case, “when it is revealed, it will plainly prove that if the police had been properly trained and obeyed the law, Gabby would still be alive today.”
Another suit filed by the Petito family in Florida
According to him, breaking the law might have fatal consequences, as it did in this instance.
He stated that by failing to give police with training and resources, the Moab City Police Department has “chronic challenges with protecting” domestic abuse victims.
He declared, “This is an institutional failure, pure and simple.”
The lawsuit was added to another one the Petito family filed in Florida against Laundrie’s parents, who they claim obstructed the investigation into Petito’s death and knew Laundrie was responsible.
At a Monday press appearance, Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, brushed away her emotions.
She lamented, “This is simply bringing back a lot of pain.” “We’re going to make every effort. We are here for that reason.
When Schmidt first saw the disputed police body camera film, he remarked, “Watching that is incredibly difficult. To save her, I longed to leap through the screen.
Just reach out when you can and receive the support you need, she advised victims who are currently in violent relationships. You can leave. Just be careful. Speak with someone you can trust.
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