Gabby Petito’s Parents Have Filed A $79M Lawsuit Against Police For Failing To Protect Her

Gabby Petito's family is suing Utah police.

The family of travel blogger Gabby Petito, the woman who vanished and was later found to have been killed by her boyfriend Brian Laundrie, are taking further legal action against police

Petito’s parents are suing Moab police for USD$50 million (AUD$79 million) for allegedly failing to protect their daughter after they didn’t recognise she was in danger when she and Brian were pulled over for a traffic stop.

“They relied on these officers to uphold the law, to serve and protect their daughter,” the family’s attorney Brian Stewart said in a statement to E! News.

“However, when it became clear that the officers involved did not fully investigate the threat she faced and did not follow the law, they knew they owed it to Gabby to demand accountability and change.

“Gabby’s death was foreseeable and preventable,” Stewart added.

“Gabby would be alive today if the officers had done their job to protect her and followed the law.”

The City of Moab has denied responsibility for Gabby’s death and released its own statement in response to the lawsuit.

“The attorneys for the Petito family seem to suggest that somehow our officers could see into the future based on this single interaction,” it read, per CNN.

“In truth, on August 12, no one could have predicted the tragedy that would occur weeks later and hundreds of miles away, and the City of Moab will ardently defend against this lawsuit.”

An independent review into the Gabby Petito case earlier this year — which included police vision of Petito and Laundrie — found the Utah police officers who responded to a 911 call about the 22-year-old prior to her murder made several mistakes. Crucially, police classed Petito’s distress as just a “mental health” issue rather than that of domestic violence.

Petito’s mother Nicole Schmidt announced a lawsuit in August and told a news conference she wondered whether her daughter’s death could have been prevented if police had acted differently.

She said watching the footage of Petito crying to police was “very painful” and she “wanted to jump through the screen and rescue her”.

The family’s lawyer James McConkie said officers “failed to recognise the serious danger that she was in, and failed to investigate fully and properly”.

“They did not have the training that they needed to recognise the clear signs that were evident that morning, that Gabby was a victim and that she was in serious need of immediate help,” he said.

In case you aren’t across this case, the independent investigation into Utah police’s handling of Petito and Laundrie’s altercation was conducted after a formal complaint filed by a lawyer who raised questions about their actions.

The review, which was conducted by Captain Brandon Ratcliffe of the Price City Police Department in Utah, found that the officers who responded to an August 12 incident between Petito and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, misclassified the incident.

The review also determined that their reports lacked crucial details.

Police received a 911 call about a “domestic disturbance” involving two people in a van.

According to the report, Petito told officers she slapped Laundrie first, but the officers’ reports lacked details or documentation of any injury she incurred.

It also appeared Laundrie was not asked about a scratch on Petito’s cheek, despite Petito telling the officers Laundrie had grabbed her face.

One officer wrote in a report that it appeared the incident was “more accurately categorised as a mental/emotional health ‘break’ than a domestic assault.”

The review concluded that the incident should have been classified as domestic violence, which would have resulted in an arrest or at least a citation being issued, which supposedly would have been against Petito.

The review also found there was no statement taken from the 911 caller who reported “the gentleman slapping the girl”.

“Both written reports are missing significant details as it relates to the who, what, when, where, and how as it relates to this incident,” Ratcliffe wrote.

The officers told Petito and Laundrie no one would be charged and that they must spend the night away from each other with no contact until the following day.

Some time after, Petito was murdered.

When asked if Petito might still be alive today had the case been handled differently, Ratcliffe wrote that it was “an impossible question to answer”.

He said blame for her death rests with “the person or persons directly responsible … weeks after and several hundred miles away from their August 12th incident in Moab.”

The review recommended that the two officers, Eric Pratt and Daniel Scott Robbins, be placed on probation.

Pratt said in the report that he accepted responsibility for any actions he took that were found to be wrong.

“I am devastated about it,” he said in an interview included in the review.

“I cared that day and I still care.”

The report also recommends additional training and policy changes, including a policy that photographs be taken of the injuries of everyone involved in these types of incidents.

The city of Moab said in a statement that it intends to follow the report’s recommendations.

It said that the officers made “several unintentional mistakes” but it believes they showed “kindness, respect and empathy.”

Help is available.

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.

If you’d like to speak to someone about domestic violence, please call the 1800 

Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online. 

Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.