The police officers who stopped Gabby Petito and her fiancé Brian Laundrie a month before Petito was found dead, made several mistakes in their handling of the case. This is confirmed by a new police investigation.
Police in the city of Moab in the US state of Utah supported Petito and his fiancée Laundrie on August 12 last year, after someone alerted the police about two people who were arguing while driving in a motorhome.
One month later, on September 11, Instagram adventurer Gabby Petito was reported missing by her family. September 19th she was found dead.
The autopsy report stated that the cause of death was suffocation.
On September 24, after Petito was found dead, the FBI in Wyoming issued one federal arrest warrant against Laundrie.
Several shortcomings in the report
In retrospect, several questions have been asked about the police’s handling of the first meeting with Petito and fiancé Brian Laundrie. An independent investigation, conducted by another Utah police department, has now determined that officers misclassified the incident, skriver NBC News.
The report the officers delivered afterwards also lacked more details, concludes the investigation, which was initiated after a formal complaint from a lawyer.
When the police officers stopped the camper Laundrie and Petito drove on August 12, Petito is said to have explained that she had beaten Laundrie first.
But the report that the police wrote about the incident lacked information about Petito and her injuries. Among other things, she is said to have had a wound on her cheek that was not followed up, and she is said to have explained that Laundrie had grabbed her face.
Was on vacation
The couple had been on a motorhome holiday together, and shared missing idyllic photos on social media along the way. During the trip, however, they are said to have quarreled so violently that someone reported to the police.
One of the officers who moved out wrote in the report that the incident was mental or emotional, more than an incident of violence.
The investigation now states in retrospect that the incident should have been categorized as domestic violence.
It would have required the police to arrest, or issue an arrest warrant – which in this case would have been against Petito.
“Both written reports lack important details regarding who, what, when, where and how regarding this incident,” the independent police report states.
The police officers who met the couple asked them to leave separately for the night, and said that they would not have contact again until the next day. Laundrie was then taken to a motel by the police, while Petito was left in the van.
Brian Ratcliffe, who has led the investigation for the police, writes in the report that it is “impossible to answer” whether Petitio would have been alive today if the officers had handled the incident in a different way. He states that the police officers did not make a mistake on purpose, and that the blame for the murder lies with “the person or persons who are directly responsible”.
The police report recommends, among other things, that the police station at Moab, where the officers work, carry out new rounds of training. The report also recommends that the guidelines for emergencies concerning domestic violence be changed, so that, among other things, photos are taken of everyone involved in incidents where someone is injured.
In the aftermath of Petito being found dead, the two policemen have said that they take responsibility for what happened.
“I am devastated by what happened. I cared that day, and I still care “, says one of them in an interview in connection with the report.
The police department says in a statement that they will follow up the recommendations from the report.