Gabby Petito’s Family Files Lawsuit Against Utah Police

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

The family of slain social media influencer Gabby Petito has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Utah police. In it, they claim that officers “bungled” a traffic stop that could have saved Petito’s life.

A 35-page complaint filed on Nov. 11 alleges that “sloppy” work by the Moab Police Department left the clearly distressed 22-year-olds with Brian Laundrie, who strangled her only two weeks later.

The stop in question took place on Aug. 12, 2021, as the couple was making their way to Arches National Park during a cross-country trip. The officers were responding to an alleged “domestic incident” that happened earlier that day.

Bodycam footage showed Gabby Petito sobbing as one officer decided that she was the “primary aggressor” and another officer sided with Landrie and claimed he was in fact the “victim of domestic assault.”

The US Sun obtained the court documents today. And among the claims is one by a person referred to as “Witness 1” saying that Eric Pratt, the senior officer involved in the stop, is known in the department for intentionally skirting his duties because following through with investigations leads to “too much paperwork.”

That same person also said that Pratt had “several extra-marital affairs” while he was previously working as a police chief in Salina, Utah. She was allegedly one of his mistresses, and when their fling ended, he threatened her life.

“Pratt pulled Witness 1 over in her car, with her 5-year-old daughter in the back seat,” reads the complaint. “Pratt credibly and clearly threatened her stating, ‘If any of this gets out, I will kill you with a crowbar.’”

Despite the Aug. traffic stop and the other claims, the Moab Police Department promoted Pratt to detective earlier this year.

Moab PD Claims Its Officers Played No Part in the Gabby Petito Murder

Furthermore, Pratt also admitted on the Books In Heinessight podcast that police work disillusioned him. And he said that he constantly looks for “loopholes” while dealing with investigations.

“Pratt’s dangerous approach is evident throughout his interaction with Gabby and Brian as he manipulates the invest intentionally looking for loopholes to get around the requirements of Utah law and his duty to protect Gabby,” the documents continue.

The Moab PD refused to comment on the pending court case. However, a spokesperson did release a statement.

“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,” the statement says. “At the same time, it is clear that Moab City Police Department officers are not responsible for Gabrielle Petito’s eventual murder.”

The statement continued by claiming that its officers “acted with kindness, respect, and empathy toward Ms. Petito.”

“The attorneys for the Petito family seem to suggest that somehow our officers could see into the future based on this single interaction,” it concluded. “In truth, on Aug. 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.”