Gabby Petito Case: Utah Police Made ‘Several Unintentional Mistakes’
An independent review found that Utah police made “several unintentional mistakes” when responding to a call in August that Brian Laundrie hit Gabby Petito on the side of the road in Moab.
Police body camera footage, which was widely viewed after the case gained national attention, showed officers responding to an August 12, 2021 incident after a caller said Laundrie had slapped Petito outside the Moonflower Community Co-Op grocery store.
After pulling them over nearby, the responding officers interviewed Laundrie, 23, and Petito, 22. According to the report, Petito said she hit Laundrie first, and he was treated as a victim in the incident. The officers ultimately separated the couple for just one day, driving Laundrie to a motel.
In the report, Capt. Brandon Ratcliffe of the Price City Police Department concluded that the two responding officers, Eric Pratt and Daniel Robbins, had failed to classify the police report as a domestic violence incident and file it with a prosecuting attorney, among other charges.
Laundrie later killed himself after being named the only person of interest in Petito’s death.
“Would Gabby be alive today if this case was handled differently? That is an impossible question to answer despite it being the answer many people want to know. Nobody knows and nobody will ever know the answer to that question,” Ratcliffe wrote in the report.
“I am confident and comfortable in stating the mistakes that were made were not made intentionally,” he wrote. “The officers did not know what they were doing was wrong at the time and did not make the decision to benefit themselves in any way. They both believed at the time they were making the right decision based on the totality of the circumstances that were presented.”
The city of Moab issued a statement saying that they plan to implement some of the report’s recommendations, including additional training in domestic violence incidents.
“The City of Moab believes our officers showed kindness, respect and empathy in their handling of this incident,” the statement read. “As the Moab City Police Department continues its daily mission to serve our community, efforts are underway to provide additional resources and tools to assist in addressing domestic violence incidents.”