MOAB, Utah (NewsNation now) – Officers in Moab, Utah, made several “unintentional errors” when answering a 911 call about domestic violence involving Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie, found a report from an independent law enforcement agency.
“Mistakes were made in how this case was handled,” said the person conducting the review. “If this case were handled flawlessly, would it have changed anything? No one knows.”
The city of Moab on Wednesday issued a statement and review of the incident on August 12, which took place shortly before Petito disappeared. It says the errors “stemmed from the fact that officers failed to quote Ms. Petito for domestic violence.”
The review also said, “just because Gabby was determined to be the dominant aggressor, as it was related to this incident, does not mean she was the long-term dominant aggressor in this relationship.”
During the 911 call, a man told the Grand County Sheriff’s Office that he saw a man slap a woman as he walked through the city, continuing to beat her before the two got into their van and drove off.
“We drove past and the gentleman beat the girl,” he said. “They ran up and down the sidewalk, he kept hitting her, jumped into the car, and they drove off.”
Later in the day, Moab City police responded to reports of one alleged physical interaction between Petito and Laundrie. Hour-long body camera footage from the investigation shows officers responding to the 911 call with Petito crying “uncontrollably” and saying the couple had had “small quarrels” that day. Authorities said Laundrie told officers that the couple had been traveling for four to five months, which “created emotional strain between them and increased the number of quarrels.”
On September 30, a bodycam video from another angle showing was released Petito tells an officer Laundrie grabbed her jaw, but she hit him “a few times” first.
Petito and Laundrie were reportedly separated for the night Petito was holding the van, and Laundrie received lodging assistance from police.
The bodycam footage is from August 12th. Sometime around the end of that month, Petito was killed. Her remains were found in Wyoming on September 19th.
“I am desperate (statement) that she was killed,” one of the responding officers was quoted as saying in the investigative review. “I really am. I would have done anything to stop it if I had known it was on its way.”
In the August police report, Laundrie was listed as a victim. Chief Bret Edge said there was not enough evidence to proceed with any charges.
But the Independent Law Enforcement Agency’s investigation report suggests improvements to policies and officer training. Some of the recommendations include:
- More investigation of domestic violence
- Further legal training to ensure that officials understand the laws and statutes of the state
- An overall policy review
- A software review
- Strengthening the review process for incident reports
The investigation report also found that a statement was never obtained by the original 911 caller. It recommends that it be done so that the incident report is more complete.
It also states that officers “made a mistake by not reading the entire assault statute as well as misinterpreting the language of the statute.”
The report suggests that officers be put to the test or have it extended, but the city’s statement does not mention whether it plans to proceed with this recommendation.
“Based on the results of the report, the city of Moab believes that our officers showed kindness, respect and
empathy in their handling of this incident, ”the city said in the statement, adding that it would hire a trained violence specialist to oversee the police investigation. More training and testing for officers will also take place.
Investigators say Petito was last in contact with his family in late August when the couple visited Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. Her body was found at a campground in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming days after a nationwide search was launched.
“The city of Moab sends our sincere condolences to the Petito family. Our hearts go out to them as
they continue to deal with the tragic loss of their daughter. “
Laundrie, Petito’s girlfriend, was a person of interest in the case. He refused to speak to authorities and disappeared on September 13. His body was found near the Carlton Reserve on October 20 and identified the next day.
“It is very likely that Gabby was a long-term victim of domestic violence, whether it was physical, mental and / or emotional,” said the person who conducted the independent review.
NewsNation’s Sydney Kalich contributed to this report.
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