UTAH

Family of Gabby Petito announces intent to file lawsuit against Moab Police

Aug 8, 2022, 11:03 AM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:20 am

James McConkie is pictured. The petito family filed a lawsuit against Moab Police...

James McConkie announces the lawsuit at a press conference on August 8, 2022. (Aimee Cobabe, KSL NewsRadio)

(Aimee Cobabe, KSL NewsRadio)

MOAB, Utah — The family of Gabby Petito has announced their intent to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Moab City Police Department (MCPD). The family alleges that Moab police officers failed to protect Petito from her fiance and traveling partner, Brian Laundrie. 

In a press conference Monday, a lawyer representing the Petito family, Brian Stewart said, “The officers failed to recognize the serious danger that she was in. And failed to investigate fully and properly.”

Police received 911 call about Petito

Moab Police received a 911 call about Petito and Laundrie on August 12, 2021. Responding Officers Eric Pratt and Daniel Robbins questioned the couple separately that day about injuries they each had. 

The officers eventually recommended the two spend the night away from each other and did not find that the couple’s situation rose to the level of domestic violence.

An independent investigation into the officer’s response was later conducted. The investigator found that the officers made “unintentional mistakes” and the MCPD should make changes to its training.

The investigation concluded that there was enough probable cause to make an arrest, with Petito being the aggressor in the situation.

The Petito family claims the officers failed to understand the law. The family also says police were not properly trained to handle domestic violence. The family claims the officers failed to identify Laundrie as the aggressor.

“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. Failure to follow the law can have deadly consequences, as it did in this case,” said James McConkie, a Parker & McConkie attorney representing the Petito family. 

Petito family: “officers weren’t properly trained”

The family’s attorneys also claim that if officers had the proper training, they would have identified Petito as a victim of domestic violence and known she needed protection. 

During the press conference, Stewart said the family wasn’t trying to punish the individual officers involved but to demand change that will help officers do their job better.

“The Petito family believes that it is important as a society to hold our governmental institutions to account for such failures and to work toward changes to protect victims of domestic abuse and violence and prevent such tragedies in the future,” said Stewart.

At the press conference, Petito’s mother Nichole Schmidt said, “We just want to help people. We’re going to do whatever we can. And that’s why we’re here.”

The lawsuit will seek $50 million in damages.

Moab City said it does not comment on pending litigation.

Aimee Cobabe contributed to the reporting of this story.

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Family of Gabby Petito announces intent to file lawsuit against Moab Police