The Petito family is suing the city of Moab, Utah for wrongful death after their daughter, travel blogger Gabby, and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, were questioned by police about a possible domestic disturbance weeks before Gabby went missing.
After being revealed in a notice of claim back in August, the lawsuit was finally filed on Thursday, and it’s asking for at least $50 million in damages.
During a press conference on Thursday, Nichole Schmidt, Petito’s mother, said, “We feel the need to seek justice since she could have been protected that day.” “Some laws were enacted to safeguard victims, but they were disregarded. And we don’t want anyone else to go through what we did.”
During the briefing, one of the attorneys for the family argued, “Gabby would still be alive today” if the Moab police had complied with a Utah law against domestic violence.
According to McConkie, “the goal of this action is to respect Gabby’s memory by demanding responsibility and working for change in the system to protect victims of domestic abuse and violence and prevent such tragedies in the future.”
An independent study states that on August 12, 2021, while Petito and Laundrie were in Moab, Utah, a 911 caller claimed seeing a “gentleman slapping the girl.” Police questioned the pair and released them after clearing them of any wrongdoing.
According to the complaint, Petito told police, “I definitely hit him first,” and that he had grabbed her face and scratched her.
According to the police report, Petito explained that the couple’s quarrel had been building for days and that she suffered from acute anxiety and other medical ailments. According to the report, the police described the incident as a “mental/emotional break” rather than a domestic assault.
Last year, Chief of Police Bret Edge of the Moab, Utah, Police Department stated that “insufficient evidence exists to justify criminal charges.”
Petito’s family reported her missing on September 11, 2021, around two weeks after their last contact with her. A coroner ruled that she died from “blunt-force injuries to the head and neck, with manual strangling” after her body was discovered a week later in Wyoming’s Bridger-Teton National Forest.
According to the FBI, Laundrie confessed to killing Petito in a journal before his suicide in Florida’s Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park.
The lawsuit claims that Moab police officers ignored “clear signs” that Petito had been the victim of domestic abuse and actively sought for ways to circumvent Utah’s domestic violence law, which forbids police officers to exercise their judgment while investigating allegations of domestic violence.
The complaint alleges that “protective orders are automatically issued to ensure that the abuser and the victim remain separated.” However, in this case, “the cops instructed Gabby to produce answers that the officers used to explain their decision not to enforce Utah law,” based on the officers’ catastrophic inability to identify Brian as the abuser.
Among the claims made is that officers from the Moab Police Department lacked the required training to recognize and respond to instances of domestic violence.
Moab has announced its intention to fight the lawsuit.
“We are deeply saddened by Gabrielle Petito’s untimely death in Wyoming and want the Petito and Schmidt families to know how sorry we are for their tragic loss. While it’s obvious that officers from the Moab City Police Department aren’t to blame for Gabrielle Petito’s death, “A statement from the city confirmed the rumors.