Gabby Petito's Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Moab PD, Cops Who Handled Brian Laundrie 911 Call
Gabby Petito's parents have alleged that Moab officers Eric Pratt and Daniel Robbins failed to properly handle a 911 call made on Aug. 12, 2021, in which a witness said they saw Brian Laundrie hitting Petito. Laundrie killed Petito later that month.
Was Gabby Petito killed because of negligence by the Moab City police department? That's what her parents believe, as their attorneys announced Monday they would be filing a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against the Moab City police department, the officers who interacted with her days before her death, and two former leaders in the department.
The family alleges that Moab officers Eric Pratt and Daniel Robbins failed to properly respond to a 911 call made on Aug. 12, 2021, in which a witness said he saw Brian Laundrie hitting Petito and trying to take her phone and drive off without her in the middle of downtown Moab.
Body camera footage from the officers who responded to that call in Utah showed they eventually concluded Petito was the predominant aggressor and categorized it as disorderly conduct. They separated the couple for the night, but no charges were ever filed.
“The officers failed to recognize the serious danger that she was in, and failed to investigate fully and properly,” the family’s attorney, James McConkie, told reporters. “They did not have the training that they needed to recognize the clear signs that were evident that morning, that Gabby was a victim and that she was in serious need of immediate help.”
A spokesperson for the Moab city government told the Los Angeles Times they would not comment on the lawsuit, saying the city does not comment on pending litigation.
Petito was murdered later that month by Laundrie. Her remains were found in September 2021 at Bridger–Teton National Forest in Wyoming. Laundrie was found to have taken his own life after authorities on Sept. 23, 2021 issued an arrest warrant for him for his unauthorized use of Petito’s debit card. The FBI revealed in January that Laundrie admitted to killing Petito in a notebook found near his remains in Florida. The pair, who were engaged and traveling in a van across the U.S., were originally from Long Island, New York.
Petito’s mother and father said they are bringing the lawsuit to honor their daughter’s legacy by working to save the lives of domestic violence victims. They also wanted to see changes made to the handling of cases like that of their daughter’s.
Though police officers typically have immunity from lawsuits in many states, including Utah, attorneys for Petito's family said they plan to argue that applying Utah’s governmental immunity law to wrongful death claims is unconstitutional and serves as a roadblock to accountability.
“The only effective way to correct these problems is to hold our institutions accountable for failures, including law enforcement,” Petito family attorney Brian Stewart said.
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