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

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

The investigation report, which is more than 100 pages and was written by a Price City Police Department captain, 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-fiancé Brian Laundrie.

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

“After reviewing all of the information and speaking with the officers, I am confident and comfortable in saying that the mistakes that were made were not made intentionally. The officers did not know what they were doing was wrong at the time and made no decisions to take advantage of it. They both believed at the time that they were making the right decision based on the totality of the circumstances presented.

The Moab Police Department’s handling of the incident has come under global scrutiny after body camera footage of the reported assault incident between Petito and Laundrie emerged in August 2021.

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

On August 12, Moab police were called to a reported domestic trouble in which a “man allegedly assaulted the woman” near the Moonflower Community Co-op. Petito and Laundrie reportedly left the scene in a van after “some kind of altercation”. An officer says he was able to catch up with the van as it neared the entrance to Arches National Park.

After stopping the van, officers say they noticed Petito crying “uncontrollably.” She continued to cry during the inquest and said she had mental health issues. Additionally, Petito told officers that she and Laundrie had “little arguments” that day. This led “to the incident which was reported to law enforcement”. Petito reportedly told Moab police that when she saw the officer trying to stop them, she “punched Brian on the arm to get his attention”, causing him to hit the sidewalk. Throughout the time she spoke with police, the officer said Petito couldn’t stop crying, “breathing heavily, or composing a sentence without needing to wipe away tears, wipe his nose or rubbing his knees with his hands”.

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

After assessing the circumstances, Moab police determined that the incident was not a domestic assault.

The Price City Police Captain, author of the report, concludes by saying:

“There are a lot of ‘what-if’s that have come up as part of this investigation, the main
be: Would Gabby be alive today if this case was handled differently? It’s an impossible question to
answer although this is the answer many people want to know. No one knows and no one will ever know
know the answer to this question. My job is to provide information on the details of this investigation
and whether it has been handled appropriately.

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