Skip to content
Gabby Petito case: review reveals ‘mistakes’ made by Utah police

MOAB, Utah (NewsNation Now) – Agents in Moab, Utah, made several “unintentional mistakes” in responding to a 911 call regarding domestic violence involving Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie, according to a review by an independent body responsible for law enforcement.

“Mistakes were made in the way this matter was handled,” the reviewer said. “If this matter had been handled without a hitch, would that have made any difference? Nobody knows.”

The city of Moab on Wednesday released a statement and report on the August 12 incident, which took place shortly before Petito’s disappearance. He indicates that the errors “stemmed from the fact that the officers had not cited Ms. Petito for domestic violence.”

The review also said: “Just because Gabby was determined to be the predominant perpetrator in this incident does not mean that she was the predominant long-term perpetrator in this relationship.”

During the 911 call, a man told the Grand County Sheriff’s Office he saw a man slap a woman as he was walking through town and hit her before the two got on board in their van and drive off.

“We walked past and the gentleman was slapping the girl,” he said. “They ran down the sidewalk, he started hitting her, jumped in the car and they drove off.”

Later that day, Moab City Police responded to reports of an alleged physical interaction between Petito and Laundrie. Hour-long body camera footage from the investigation shows officers answering the 911 call with Petito crying “uncontrollably”, claiming the couple had “little arguments” that day. Authorities said Laundrie told officers the couple had been traveling for four to five months, which “created emotional tension between them and increased the number of arguments.”

On September 30, a video of the body camera from a different angle was released. She shows Petito telling an officer that Laundrie grabbed his jaw, but first hit him “a few times”.

Petito and Laundrie are said to have gone their separate ways for the night, Petito guarding the van and Laundrie receiving police assistance with accommodation.

The body camera images are from August 12. Towards the end of the month, Petito was killed. His remains were found in Wyoming on September 19.

“I am desperately (expletive) that she was killed,” said one of the officers responding in the investigative review. “I really am. I would have done anything to stop it if I had known this was going to happen.

In the August police report, Laundrie was on the casualty list. Chief Bret Edge said there was not enough evidence to move forward with charges.

But the independent law enforcement agency’s investigative report suggests improvements to policies and officer training. Some of the recommendations include:

  • More training on domestic violence investigations
  • Additional legal training, to ensure officers understand state laws and statutes
  • A comprehensive policy review
  • A software review
  • Strengthening of the incident report review process

The investigation report also revealed that a statement was never obtained by the original caller to 911. It recommends that this be done to make the incident report more complete.

He also says the officers “made a mistake in not reading the entire assault law and misinterpreting the wording of the law.”

The report suggests officers be put on probation or extended, but the city’s statement does not mention whether it plans to move forward with this recommendation.

“Based on the findings of the report, the City of Moab believes our officers have shown kindness, respect and
empathy in their handling of this incident, ”the city said in the statement, adding that it would hire a trained domestic violence specialist to oversee police investigations. More training and testing for agents will also take place.

Investigators say Petito was last in contact with his family in late August, when the couple were visiting Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. His body was found in a camping area in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming, days after a nationwide search was launched.

“The City of Moab offers its sincere condolences to the Petito family. Our thoughts go out to them like
they continue to face the tragic loss of their daughter.

Laundrie, Petito’s boyfriend, was a person of interest in the case. He refused to speak to authorities and disappeared on September 13. His body was found near the Carlton Reserve on October 20 and identified the next day.

“It is very likely that Gabby was a long-term victim of domestic violence, whether physically, mentally and / or emotionally,” the independent reviewer said.

Sydney Kalich of NewsNation contributed to this report.


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.