Police were told that Brian Laundrie hit Gabby Petito before stopping the couple in Utah, dispatch records say, but still labeled her the aggressor

·3 min read
Gabby Petito Brian Laundrie composite image Moab Police bodycam
A composite image showing Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie, from bodycam footage from August 12, 2021 after police in Moab, Utah, stopped their van. Moab Police Department/Insider
  • Dispatch records show that Utah police were told Brian Laundrie hit Gabby Petito on August 12.

  • It was previously unclear if the responding officers knew a witness had claimed this.

  • The callout was labeled a mental-health episode, a decision which has since come under scrutiny.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Police officers responding to the August 12 callout to Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie were told that he had hit her, dispatch records show.

At 4:38 p.m., a dispatcher told Moab City Police Department officers that the person who reported the incident "states seeing a male hit a female, domestic," according to records obtained by FOX13 Utah.

The dispatcher made a second reference later, speaking of "the female who got hit," according to Fox. However, at the scene police considered charging Petito with domestic violence rather than Laundrie.

The incident is under intense scrutiny after Petito, 22, was found dead on September 20 in a Wyoming camping ground. Her death has been ruled a homicide.

The couple had been on a joint road trip since June, with Laundrie returning alone to their Florida home on September 1. The alarm about Petito's disappearance was raised on September 11 by her family.

Laundrie is now missing, and is a person of interest in the criminal investigation. A warrant for his arrest has been made relating to his debit-card use.

Despite widespread speculation, Laundrie has not been charged with any violent act.

An August 12 argument outside Moonflower Community Cooperative prompted onlookers to call police.

While witnesses who filed reports mentioned Laundrie hitting Petito, it had been unclear until now whether Moab police had that information when they pulled the couple over.

The dispatch record now shows police were aware of Laundrie's reported aggression.

Under Utah law, when a police officer has probable cause to believe a domestic violence situation is under way they are obliged to make an arrest or issue a citation.

But on August 12, police deemed the situation a mental health crisis instead, and ordered the couple to spend the night apart.

Moab City has launched an investigation into the police response. The police department did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Reports of violence

A screenshot from Utah police bodycam footage showing Brian Laundrie talking to a police officer.
A screenshot from the Moab City Police Department footage of Petito and Laundrie on August 12 2021. MCPD

Both Petito and Laundrie have been described as aggressors at the scene.

One witness, named as "Chris" in the redacted police report, said Petito hit Laundrie "in the arm and/or face" as she tried to get into the van. It appeared that Laundrie could have taken her phone and was not letting her back in, Chris said.

Bodycam footage from the stop records an officer noting that a witness had said they had seen Laundrie "shove" but not hit Petito, and that it was hard to tell exactly what the dynamic was.

"So at this point, unless the guy's screaming that he's going to jail and did something to this girl, it sounds like she is the primary aggressor," the officer is recorded as saying, according to Fox.

However, another 911 caller had described Laundrie "slapping" Petito. The now-released dispatch audio now makes it clear that police on the callout were aware of such claims.

In the police bodycam footage, Petito is visibly upset and apologetic, while Laundrie is calm and collected.

The footage shows officers noting that Laundrie has scratches on his arms, which he brushes off.

Petito appeared to voluntarily assume much of the blame for the dispute, saying she had been arguing with him for getting dirt in their van.

Read the original article on Insider