Gabby Petito's family plans to file $50 million wrongful death suit against Utah police over their response to a domestic violence report involving Brian Laundrie

Gabby Petito's family plans to file $50 million wrongful death suit against Utah police over their response to a domestic violence report involving Brian Laundrie
  • Gabby Petito's family is moving to file a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against Utah's Moab Police Department.

  • They plan to file the suit over the department's handling of a domestic incident between Petito and Brian Laundrie.

  • Petito was killed last year during a cross-country road trip with Laundrie, who later died by suicide.

The family of Gabby Petito is moving to file a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against Utah's Moab Police Department over its handling of a domestic incident involving the travel vlogger and her fiancé Brian Laundrie shortly before she was killed last year.

Attorneys representing Petito's family filed a notice of claim against the department on Monday, they announced.

Laundrie "murdered [Petito] shortly after the Moab City Police Department failed to adequately respond to reports and evidence of domestic violence between Brian and Gabby," the notice of claim states.

"While the full evidence has not yet been made public, when it is released, it will clearly show that if the officers had been properly trained and followed the law, Gabby would still be alive today," lawyer James McConkie said in a statement announcing that the notice of claim was filed.

McConkie, speaking during a press conference in which Petito's family virtually attended, added, "We believe these officers were negligent and their negligence contributed to the cause of Gabby's death."

The Moab Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Insider. A spokesperson for the city of Moab told Insider it does "not comment on pending litigation."

Petito's body was discovered at a remote campsite in Wyoming on September 19, 2021 weeks after Moab officers responded to an incident with the 22-year-old woman and Laundrie on August 12, 2021 as the pair was on a cross-country road trip.

Officers with the Moab Police Department responded to the incident involving the couple near Arches National Park shortly before Petito's communication with her family stopped.

The couple told police that they got into an argument in Moab that resulted in Petito slapping Laundrie, a police report and officer body-camera footage released by the Moab Police Department showed.

But in a 911 call about the same incident, a witness was heard telling dispatchers with the Grand County Sheriff's Office that he saw a man "slapping the girl."

Body-camera footage also showed a crying and distraught Petito telling Moab officers that Laundrie grabbed her face and her arm during their argument.

Lawyers for Petito's family say that a photo that has not been released to the public shows "a close-up view of Gabby's face where blood is smeared on her cheek and left eye, revealing the violent nature of Brian's attack."

Moab officers ultimately determined the incident was a "mental health crisis" and recommended that Laundrie and Petito spend the night apart.

Gabby Petito and fiance Brian Laundrie
Gabby Petito and fiance Brian LaundrieCourtesy of the Schmidt and Petito family

An independent report commissioned by the city of Moab, Utah, later found that officers who responded to the incident made "several unintentional mistakes that stemmed from the fact that officers failed to cite Ms. Petito for domestic violence," the city said.

The report said the case report compiled by police categorized the incident as "disorderly conduct," when actually it should have been labeled as "domestic violence related."

"Just because Gabby was determined to be the predominant aggressor as it related to this incident, doesn't mean she was the long-term predominant aggressor in this relationship," Captain Brandon Ratcliffe of the Price City Police Department concluded in the report.

He added, "It's very likely Gabby was a long-term victim of domestic violence, whether that be physically, mentally, and/or emotionally."

Brian Stewart, one of the lead attorneys representing Petito's family in the case, said in a statement,  "Due to lack of training and access to critical domestic violence resources, the officers failed to properly investigate the reported domestic assault and, thus failed to fully appreciate or respond to Gabby's life-threatening situation."

Petito's mom, Nichole Schmidt, said during Monday's press conference that watching the police body-camera footage of the Moab incident was "very painful" for her.

"I wanted to jump through the screen and rescue her," an emotional Schmidt said of her daughter.

Petito, who went missing in late August, died of "blunt-force injuries to the head and neck, with manual strangulation," a coroner ruled.

Laundrie, 23, claimed responsibility for Petito's death in a notebook before he died by suicide, the FBI said earlier this year. His remains were found last October at a Florida nature preserve as police were searching for him.

Read the original article on Insider