Utah Police Made Mistakes During Gabby Petito, Brian Laundrie Stop: Report

By Jason Hall

January 13, 2022

Photo: @gabspetito/Instagram

A new report accuses Moab, Utah, police officers of making several mistakes during their encounter with Gabby Petito and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, prior to both of their disappearances and deaths making national headlines.

NBC News reports a review conducted by Pride City Police Capt. Brandon Ratcliffe determined that officers who responded to an incident involving the couple on August 12 misclassified the incident and filed a police report lacking details.

On October 12, Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue -- who performed an autopsy on Petito -- announced her death was ruled as a death by strangulation and the manner of death to be a homicide during a press conference.

Laundrie, the lone person of interest in connection to Petito's disappearance and death, was discovered weeks later at the Carlton Reserve campsite near his family's Florida home and confirmed to have died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, his family's attorney, Steve Bertolino, confirmed to TMZ.

Dr. Blue said Petito's death is believed to have occurred 3-4 weeks prior to her remains being found on September 19 and confirmed to match her days later.

Dr. Blue confirmed the ruling was made while working alongside local and federal authorities. No other information will be released in adherence with state law.

Laundrie was the center of a publicized search by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local authorities at the Carlton Reserve prior to his remains being discovered.

Dr. Blue said local law enforcement would decide who would be charged in connection to Petito's homicide case.

On September 30, police released additional bodycam footage which showed Petito telling an officer that an argument with Laundrie got physical.

The newer footage stems from the incident on August 12 in Moab, Utah in which police made contact with Petito and Laundrie after a bystander called the Moab Police Department and reported seeing a man hitting a woman.

Officers pulled over the van Laundrie and Petito were traveling in on their cross-country trip and Petito told officers that she intially slapped Laundrie before he retaliated.

"I guess, but I hit him first," Petito said when asked by an officer if Laundrie hit her in the face.

"Where did he hit you? Don’t worry. Just be honest," the officer asked.

"Well, he grabbed my face," Petito said.

"Did he slap your face? Or what?" the officer responded.

"Well like, yeah he grabbed me with his nail, and I guess that’s why I definitely have a cut right here because I can feel it when I touch it, it burns," she said, while holding her jaw and crying.

The video then shows Laundrie recanting his side of the incident.

"She gets really worked up, and when she does she swings, and she had her cellphone in her hand, so I was just trying to push her away," Laundrie said.

The newer video added to previously released bodycam footage showing the couple addressing the incident with police, which an officer described as a mental health crisis, not a domestic assault, according to a police report.

The city of Moab announced on September 28 an independent investigation would be conducted on officers' handling of the situation involving Petito and Laundrie.

In September, an arrest warrant was issued for Laundrie after a grand jury indicited him for his "use of unauthorized devices" during the events following the death of Petito.

The indictment obtained by CNN accuses Laundrie of using a debit card and PIN number for accounts that didn't belong to him between August 30 to September 1 in order to make purchases totaling more than $1,000.

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