A law firm representing Gabby Petito‘s family in a lawsuit against a Utah police department released a picture that they say shows her with injuries inflicted by her boyfriend and eventual killer Brian Laundrie.
Attorneys first mentioned the image in a November 2022 complaint filed against cops in the city of Moab, accusing officers of failing to properly investigate Petito’s apparent injuries. As seen on body camera video, police told the couple to simply spend the night apart.
“The photo demonstrates the cut previously noted on her left cheek as well as blood smeared from her forehead, across her left eye and cheek and over her nose, indicating that she was grabbed over her face in such a way that her airways were likely obstructed,” law firm of Parker & McConkie said.
They said that Laundrie was responsible.
From the original complaint:
At some point prior to their interaction with Moab police officers, Brian grabbed Gabby by the face so forcefully that he cut her cheek and drew blood. Gabby took a photograph of her injury, which shows blood across her nose and left eye. Gabby pointed out the injury to Officer Pratt, but he ignored her and did nothing more to investigate or document the injury.
The couple had been on a cross-country trip when at least two witnesses in Moab, Utah, saw Laundrie put his hands on Petito on Aug. 12, 2021. One said Laundrie struck her.
The lawsuit paid considerable attention to Officer Eric Pratt, who allegedly threatened a woman in an unrelated incident when she planned to expose his misconduct as police chief in Salina, Utah. He is a detective for Moab police, according to the complaint in November.
When Pratt asked Petito if Laundrie hit her, she said, “I guess, but I hit him first.” She showed how Laundrie grabbed her face, saying he must have cut her cheek with his nails because she could feel the cut burning when she touched her face. Pratt allegedly failed to inquire about this.
From the complaint:
59. Officer Pratt failed to ask any questions about or document the cut on Gabby’s face or further investigate Brian violently grabbing Gabby’s head and face.
60. Officer Pratt did not ask about whether Brian had ever locked Gabby out of their van before, or taken away her cell phone and laptop, or otherwise acted in a way to exercise control over Gabby.
61. Officer Pratt also did not ask about whether Brian had ever been violent with Gabby before.
62. Officer Pratt did not consider the asymmetrical seriousness of the force Gabby used on Brian as compared with the force Brian used on Gabby, nor did he otherwise conduct any kind of lethality assessment to evaluate whether Brian violently grabbing Gabby’s face was an indicator of potential escalating violence in the future.
“Moab Police failed to recognize the violent grabbing of Gabby’s face and obstruction of her nose, mouth, and airways as a critical precursor to her eventual death by strangulation that occurred a short time later,” the law firm stated. She was not the “predominant aggressor” in the conflict, attorneys said on Tuesday.
Pratt has previously stated the city is representing him in the lawsuit. A Moab city spokesperson declined to comment when Law&Crime reached out about the lawsuit and picture.
“The City of Moab does not comment on matters related to active litigation,” Lisa Church wrote in an email.
Laundrie killed Petito on Aug. 27, 2021, in the wilderness of Wyoming, authorities said. Under the FBI’s timeline of events, he staged texts between his phone and Petito’s phone to make it seem like she was still alive.
“After Ms. Petito’s death, there were several text messages identified between Mr. Laundrie’s telephone and Ms. Petito’s telephone,” the FBI said. “The timing and content of these messages are indicative of Mr. Laundrie attempting to deceive law enforcement by giving the impression that Ms. Petito was still alive.”
Then, as Gabby’s family reported her missing and law enforcement began to scrutinize the matter, Laundrie fled to an expansive wildlife preserve near his parents’ home in North Port, Florida. There, he died by suicide.
“Upon further search of the area, investigators found human remains later confirmed to be Mr. Laundrie, along with a backpack, notebook, and a revolver,” the FBI said. “A review of the notebook revealed written statements by Mr. Laundrie claiming responsibility for Ms. Petito’s death.”
In his suicide note, Laundrie asserted he killed Petito out of mercy after she got badly injured.
“I ended her life,” the notebook reads in part. “I thought it was merciful, that it is what she wanted, but I see now all the mistakes I made.”
The hand-scribbled missive — which contains only Laundrie’s version of the story — claims that Petito became seriously injured while the couple was trying to return to their van one freezing cold night; Petito may have slipped in and out of consciousness. Laundrie wrote he killed Petito to end her suffering.
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