Gabby Petito’s Parents Slap Moab Police With Wrongful Death Lawsuit Over 911 Call

by Amy Myers

In the aftermath of Gabby Petito’s death, her parents are hoping to hold all parties responsible for the untimely and tragic loss of their daughter.

Previously, the Petito family brought the parents of Gabby’s killer, Brian Laundrie, to court for fostering false hope that the 22-year-old victim was still alive. Now, they’ve set their sights on another crucial player in the investigation – the Moab Police Department in Utah.

Last summer, Gabby Petito and her then-boyfriend Brian Laundrie were traveling in their van to their next national park destination when they had a fight. Several bystanders had witnessed the potentially dangerous moment and alerted authorities who soon arrived at the van to take statements.

After separating the two, responding officers determined that neither Gabby nor Brian were in any immediate danger and allowed them to leave, so long as they spent the evening apart to cool down. Now, looking back at the footage, Gabby’s parents, Nicole Schmidt and Joseph Petito, as well as her step-parents, Jim Schmidt and Tara Petito, are asking that the courts bring these officers to justice.

“Had the officers involved had training to implement proper lethality assessment and to recognize the obvious indicators of abuse, it would have been clear to them that Gabby was a victim of intimate partner violence and needed immediate protection,” Brian Stewart, a lawyer for the family, said in a statement.

Gabby Petito’s Family Claims Moab Officers Missed Huge Red Flags

Following the discovery of Gabby Petito’s body, every interaction with the couple came under scrutiny. Now that the family has had the chance to re-review the material from the case, they believe that Moab officers Eric Pratt and Daniel Robbins mishandled the response to the 911 call they received.

According to Stewart, an undisclosed photo from the incident also showed that Gabby demonstrated the extent of her injuries from Laundrie. In the photo, Gabby Petito had blood “smeared on her cheek and left eye, revealing the violent nature of Brian’s attack.”

At the time, Officer Robbins was still a relatively new officer, so Pratt took point on the call. Apparently, he had determined Gabby to be the aggressor in the situation. However, he didn’t want to charge her with any crime.

“Officer Pratt called Assistant Chief Palmer to seek assistance on how to handle the situation,” the case filing reads. “Chief Palmer instructed Officer Pratt to carefully read the assault statute and decide whether the situation satisfied the statute. Officer Pratt Googled the statute. After reading only the first half of the statute, Officer Pratt decided – incorrectly – that Utah law only recognizes assault if the perpetrator intended to cause bodily injury.”

While the Petito family wants justice for what happened to their daughter, their legal team claims that there is a much larger purpose at hand for this case.

“The purpose of this lawsuit is just one part of the family’s broader effort to raise awareness and education, to protect victims of domestic violence and to help make sure that our governmental institutions are held to account and that they are given the resources and training that they need to do their jobs,” Stewart said at a news briefing Monday.