The family of aspiring travel blogger Gabby Petito has filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against Moab Police Department officers, Mediaite reports.
Petito was reported missing on Sept. 11, 2021 after she did not return home from a cross-country road trip with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie.
On Aug. 12, the couple had a public domestic dispute in Moab, Utah, where a witness claimed Laundrie slapped Petito. When police pulled Laundrie over for speeding and discovered the two had been fighting, officers advised them to spend the night apart and made arrangements for a hotel room for Laundrie.
Petito was found strangled to death at Bridger-Teton National Forest campground in Wyoming just over a month later on Sept. 19.
Laundrie evaded law enforcement and killed himself before police could interview him about Petito’s death. He left a cryptic notebook behind that claimed he “ended her life” after Petito suffered a serious injury from a fall on a hike.
“I thought it was merciful, that it is what she wanted, but I see now all the mistakes I made,” the notebook read, according to Mediaite. “I panicked. I was in shock.”
The wrongful death lawsuit filed Monday by her family, asserts the responding officers failed to properly intervene during the couple’s domestic violence incident.
“Moab City Police Department has been plagued by high turnover, lack of leadership and dangerous mismanagement for years,” James McConkie, one of the attorneys representing the family, told The Hill.
Calling the situation an “institutional failure,” McConkie also said the Moab Police Department “neglected its duty to provide the training and resources its officers need to do their job.”
The complaint names more than 10 officers involved in the incident, according to Mediaite, and alleges Petito’s death was “caused by their wrongful acts or neglect.”
Specifically, Petito’s death was caused by the Moab police officers’ “negligent failure to understand and enforce the law of the State of Utah, to investigate Brian’s self-evidently false claims during their interviews with him, to properly train the officers to investigate domestic violence situations, and to properly assess the circumstances, including to identify Brian as the true primary aggressor.”
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