Review of Moab Police’s handling of Gabby Petito, Brian Laundrie incident released

Local News

MOAB, Utah (ABC4) – The City of Moab has released its findings into the investigation of the police department’s handling of an incident between Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie.

The report of the investigation, which is over 100 pages and was written by a Captain with the Price City Police Department was released Wednesday. It was released after a complaint was filed regarding the Moab Police Department’s response to a reported assault between Petito and her then fiancee Brian Laundrie.

In the report, the captain with the Price City Police Department writes:

“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.”

The Moab Police Department’s handling of the incident came under worldwide scrutiny after bodycam footage of the incident was released of the reported assault incident between Petito and Laundrie in August 2021.

ABC4 obtained a copy of the police report filed on the incident in Moab back in August.

On August 12, 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 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.

The Price City Police Captain who authored the report concludes by saying:

“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.”

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