Moab, UT

Gabby Petito's Parents File Wrongful Death Suit Against Police

AMY KAPLAN

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According to ABC News, Gabby Petito's parents, Nichole Schmidt and Joe Petito have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Moab, Utah police department.

Petito's parents believe that if the police had done a better job when responding to a possible domestic dispute weeks before her murder, she might still be alive.

"We feel the need to bring justice because she could have been protected that day," Petito's mother said during a press conference Thursday, according to the outlet. "There are laws put in place to protect victims, and those laws were not followed. And we don't want this to happen to anybody else."

Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie were stopped on Aug. 12, 2021, after a bystander reported seeing a "gentleman slapping the girl," according to a Moab City report. No one was arrested at the time.

Her family reported her missing on Sept. 11, after not hearing from her for weeks. Her body was found on Sept. 19 in Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest. She had died from blunt-force injuries to the head and neck, with manual strangulation," according to the coroner.

Laundrie went missing and was later found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Florida's Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park. Along with his body was a notebook admitting that he had killed Petitio, the FBI said.

Petito's family's lawsuit says that the police "failed to notice obvious signs" that Petito was a victim of violence.

"The law imposes protections against future harm, including an automatic protective order to ensure that the abuser and the victim remain separated," the complaint says, according to ABC News. "But here, the officers -- based on their tragic failure to identify Brian as the abuser -- coached Gabby to provide answers that the officers used to justify their decision not to enforce Utah law."

The lawsuit also claims that one of the responding officers, Eric Pratt, is a "domestic abuser" who has "used authority and threats of physical violence to control and intimidate sexual partners," according to KSL.

Her family is speaking $50 million in damages.

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Amy Kaplan is a sports and entertainment writer.

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