New photo of Gabby Petito raises questions

Feb 8, 2023, 6:00 AM | Updated: 7:21 am

A selfie taken by Gabby Petito weeks before her death shows she had facial injuries on the day she ...

A selfie taken by Gabby Petito weeks before her death shows she had facial injuries on the day she and her fiancé Brian Laundrie were stopped by police investigating a domestic disturbance call, according to her family's lawyer. Photo credit: Moab City Police Department via CNN.

(CNN) — A selfie taken by Gabby Petito weeks before her death shows she had facial injuries on the day she and her fiancé Brian Laundrie were stopped by police investigating a domestic disturbance call, according to her family’s lawyer.

The photo was released Monday by a law office representing the Petito family. The image was described in a lawsuit filed by the family against the Moab City Police Department in Utah district court in November.

Family attorney Brian Stewart says the photo, found on Petito’s phone, was taken in the back of her van on August 12, the same day the couple was pulled over by Moab police as they were traveling through Utah.

In the selfie, Petito has a cut on her left cheek with what appears to be blood smeared over her eyelid, under her eye, and up the bridge of her nose. She appears to be wearing the same shirt in both the photo and officer body camera video released by Moab police.

The police body camera footage of that stop shows Moab officers talking to Petito and Laundrie, who admitted having a fight in which Petito said she struck her fiancé first. Officers noticed Petito had cuts on her face and arm, and she “demonstrated how Brian had violently grabbed her face during their altercation,” telling police Laundrie “gets frustrated with me a lot.”

About a month later, Petito’s remains were found in a Wyoming national park. Her death was ruled a homicide by manual strangulation.

She and Laundrie had been traveling cross-country in a van that summer and Petito had been portraying an idyllic, adventurous road trip on social media. But despite the couple’s happy online appearance, their relationship seemed to have become strained behind the scenes.

Petito’s family reported her missing in September, launching a nationwide search and attracting an avalanche of public attention to the case. As authorities were searching for Petito, Laundrie also went missing. His body was found in a Florida nature reserve in late October alongside a notebook in which he admitted to killing Petito, the FBI said. His death was ruled a suicide.

The family’s lawsuit against the Moab City Police Department and the officers involved in the traffic stop alleges the department was negligent in its hiring and training practices, and the officers were negligent in their handling of the domestic violence report, ultimately causing Gabby’s death.

Stewart said the photo shows Gabby “was grabbed over her face in such a way that her airways were likely obstructed. Gabby documented the injury and, during the stop, attempted to tell the Moab officers, however, the seriousness and significance this type of assault and injury was completely ignored.”

Obstructing a person’s airway qualifies as aggravated assault based on Utah’s Criminal Code, Stewart said, and was “ignored” by officers.

CNN reached out to the Moab City Police Department for comment Tuesday and was told the city “does not comment on matters related to active litigation.”

In November, the City of Moab issued a statement denying responsibility for her death and saying it would defend against the lawsuit.

“The death of Gabrielle Petito in Wyoming is a terrible tragedy, and we feel profound sympathy for the Petito and Schmidt families and the painful loss they have endured. At the same time, it is clear that Moab City Police Department officers are not responsible for Gabrielle Petito’s eventual murder,” the city said, CNN previously reported.

The city went on to say that its officers “acted with kindness, respect, and empathy toward Ms. Petito” during their interaction.

“Our daughter, Gabby, died as a result of intimate partner violence that could have and should have been identified by law enforcement using the lethality assessment,” Gabby’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, said in a statement last week. “We believe that if the lethality assessment had been properly used in her situation, together with the recommended support and resources, Gabby would still be alive today.”

The Petito family was in Utah to support a bill — which was unanimously passed by the state Senate — that would require specific training to identify and assess dangers posed by domestic violence.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Crime, Police + Courts

Former Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Scot Peterson shown, a school arming school staff is aw...

Curt Gresseth

Utah lawmaker discusses arming school workers

Arming school workers will lead to safer schools, says a Utah lawmaker whose bill awaits the governor's pen to become law.

24 hours ago

Bountiful police car...


One man dead after shooting in Bountiful

Officers in Bountiful arrived on the scene and found a man in his 20s with a gunshot wound. The man later died at the hospital.

2 days ago

execution chamber in idaho prison...

Associated Press

Idaho halts execution by lethal injection after 8 failed attempts to insert IV line

Thomas Eugene Creech Creech, one of the longest-serving death row inmates in the U.S., was wheeled into the execution chamber at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution on a gurney at 10 a.m.

3 days ago

Ruby Franke stands with her attorney, Lamar Winward, at her sentencing on Tuesday. Her brother and ...

Jessica Lowell

Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt transferred to Utah State Correctional Facility

The two women will each spend one to 15 years at the facility for child abuse.

3 days ago

Ruby Franke appears in a virtual court appearance....

Adam Small

Utah legislators hear from Kevin Franke on life coach regulation

Lawmakers hear from Kevin Franke about regulating life coaches. His ex-wife Ruby Franke and her partner Jodi Hildebrandt are in prison.

3 days ago

Former president Donald Trump, Manhattan trial...


With trial starting next month, Manhattan DA asks judge for a gag order in Trump’s hush-money case

The Manhattan DA's office asked that Trump be barred from making or directing others to make public statements about people involved in the case.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

New photo of Gabby Petito raises questions