MOAB, Utah (ABC4) – The family of Gabby Petito has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Utah, claiming the Moab City Police Department failed to protect Gabby following a domestic violence call involving Gabby and Brian Laundrie in August 2021.

Petito’s family is seeking $50 million in damages in the wrongful death lawsuit.

James McConkie, one of the attorneys representing the Petito family in this case, said, “While the full evidence has not yet been made public, when it is released, it will clearly show that if the officers had been properly trained and followed the law, Gabby would still be alive today. Failure to follow the law can have deadly consequences, as it did in this case.”

The Moab Police Department’s handling of the incident came under national scrutiny after bodycam footage of the incident was released of the reported assault between Petito and Laundrie.

On August 12, 2021, Moab Police were called to a reported domestic problem in which a “male had been observed to have assaulted the female” near the Moonflower Community Cooperative. Petito and Laundrie were said to have left the scene in a van after “some sort of altercation.” One officer says he was able to catch up to the van as it neared the entrance to Arches National Park.

After stopping the van, officers say they noticed Petito crying “uncontrollably.” She continued crying during the investigation and said she was struggling with her mental health. Additionally, Petito told officers she and Laundrie had been having “little arguments” that day. This lead “to the incident that was reported to law enforcement.” Petito reportedly told Moab Police that when she saw the officer trying to pull them over, she “hit Brian in the arm to get his attention,” which caused him to hit the curb. The entire time she spoke with police, the officer says Petito could not stop crying, “breathing heavily, or compose a sentence without needing to wipe away tears, wipe her nose, or rub her knees with her hands.”

Authorities report that Laundrie told officers the couple had been traveling for four to five months, which “created emotional strain between them and increased the number of arguments.” He also said “issues between the two had been building over the last few days,” causing them to argue more than usual. While arguing in Moab, Laundrie says he tried to separate Petito from him so they could “both calm their emotions.”

After evaluating the circumstances, Moab Police determined the incident was not a domestic assault.

Gabby’s body was later found in Grand Teton National Park on September 19, with her cause of death determined to be strangulation.

In January of 2022, the City of Moab released a report on its findings of the investigation of the officers’ handling of the situation.

The report, which was authored by a captain with the Price City Police Department, states:

“After reviewing all the information and speaking with the officers, I am confident and comfortable in stating the mistakes that were made were not made intentionally. 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.”

There are many ‘what-if’s’ that have presented itself as part of this investigation, the primary one
being: 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. My job is to provide information into the details of this investigation
and if it was handled appropriately,”
the report concludes.

After returning to his Florida home without his then-fiancee and evading law enforcement, Brian Laundrie’s remains were later found in a Florida nature reserve. Authorities determined Laundrie had taken his own life.

According to the FBI, a notebook was found near Laundrie’s remains in which he detailed how he killed Gabby while on their cross-country trip.

“I ended her life. I thought it was merciful, that it is what she wanted, but I see now all the mistakes I made. I panicked. I was in shock. But from the moment I decided, took away her pain, I knew I couldn’t go on without her,” the notebook reads.

More details on the lawsuit will be released during a Monday press conference. You can watch the press conference in the video above.

Additionally, ABC4’s Marcos Ortiz will have a full report on the lawsuit tonight on ABC4 at 4, 5, and 6 P.M.