Gabby Petito’s family members have filed a multi-million dollar wrongful-death lawsuit against the police department in Moab, Utah, alleging that law enforcement should have done more to prevent their daughter’s death.
According to a report from NBC News, Petito’s family is claiming that the Moab City Police Department made critical mistakes during a brief interaction with their 22-year-old daughter and her then-fiancé Brian Laundrie — and that if the police had done things differently, their daughter might not have been found dead just a few weeks later.
BREAKING: Family of Gabby Petito announces $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against police in Moab, Utah, accusing the department of failing to properly investigate her domestic violence case and protect her. https://t.co/ubyd5UitQO
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 8, 2022
Petito’s family filed a notice of intent on Monday against the Moab City Police Department — along with former-Chief Bret Edge, former–Assistant Chief Braydon Palmer, Officer Eric Pratt, and Officer Daniel Robbins — seeking $50 million in damages.
According to the filing, the family is alleging that police officers who spoke with Petito and Laundrie — after the two were spotted fighting — should have recognized the situation as a domestic violence case and pursued it accordingly.
The interaction in question took place on August 12, 2021 — and at the time, a visibly shaken Petito told police that she had slapped Laundrie and that he had grabbed her face. Both Petito and Laundrie assured the police that they loved each other and neither wanted to press charges against the other.
The 22-year-old blonde was found dead in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest on September 19th — approximately three weeks after officials believe she was killed — and the cause of death was reported to be homicide by manual strangulation.
Laundrie, who quickly became a person of interest once Petito was officially declared a missing person, was found dead in Florida’s Carlton Reserve the following month. He reportedly died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head — and admitted in writing to “ending” Petito’s life, but said that he had done so only after she had fallen while hiking.
But according to an independent review of the case, police reportedly should have classified the case as a domestic violence incident — but instead it was recorded as a mental/emotional health issue.
Based on that report, Petito’s family is alleging that the police officers at the scene — who were reportedly trained to recognize the signs of abuse — should have immediately realized that “Gabby was a victim of intimate partner violence” and provided her with “immediate protection” from Laundrie.