Gabby Petito case: Officers who stopped couple should be placed on probation, investigator recommends

Two police officers respond to a domestic violence call Gabi Pettito and Brian Laundry Last year in Moab, Utah, he should be kept on watch for what the city called “numerous unintended mistakes” made during the standoff, according to an independent investigator.

Pettito and Londry were traveling through Moab on August 12 as part of a long road trip when police answered a call in which a witness said he saw the couple involved in a house dispute before driving away.

Officers pulled over the couple after the truck exceeded the speed limit, suddenly left its lane and hit a barrier, according to a police report.

Body camera video from Officers Eric Pratt and Daniel Robbins shows Pettito and Londry – who were engaged – confessing to fighting a fight in which Pettito said she first hit her fiancé.

During lengthy conversations recorded on body cameras, Pratt said Pettito should be booked into prison because under Utah’s domestic violence laws, she is the primary abuser and Laundry the victim.

Petito and Laundrie objected, and the officers eventually agreed not to charge Petito as long as she and Laundrie agreed to spend the night away.

In the independent investigation report, Capt. Brandon Ratcliffe of the Bryce City Police Department said officers had neglected their duty not to press charges.

“I believe the officers responded to a domestic violence call and had probable cause to commit an act of domestic violence,” Ratcliffe said. “This should have meant that an arrest was made, either by martyrdom or in custody.”

However, Ratcliffe noted that there appears to be only enough evidence to charge Pettito in the matter, not Laundry.

As part of a Vanlife road trip, which was recorded on social media, Petito and Laundrie later traveled to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming before Laundrie returned alone to his parents’ home in Florida on September 1.

After her family reported Pettito’s loss, her remains were found in Wyoming in mid-September. The coroner said she died of suffocation.

Laundry disappeared just days after reporting Pettito’s loss. He was found dead in the Florida National Park on October 20 from a gunshot wound to the head.

The FBI described Laundry as a “person of interest” in Pettito’s disappearance but the arrest warrant only accused him of illegally using another person’s debit card and PIN and was not linked to her death.

Ratcliffe, who was tasked by the city with a review of the incident, said he could not speculate whether the various measures taken by officers in August would have prevented Pettito’s death.

“Would Gabe have survived today if this issue had been handled differently? This is an impossible question to answer despite being the answer that many people want to know,” the report says. “No one knows and no one will know the answer to this question.”

In a statement, the city did not address any potential disciplinary action for the officers, but said it “intends to implement the report’s recommendations” on the police department’s new policies, including domestic violence training and legal training for officers.

“Based on the findings of the report, the City of Moab believes that our officers demonstrated kindness, respect and empathy in their handling of this incident,” the city statement said.

In an investigative interview, Pratt said that while he accepts that he may have made mistakes in the stopping procedure, he is still haunted by Pettito’s death.

“I care,” he said. “He broke that.” “I cared that day and I still care. I don’t think the audience understands that we…I don’t know if they know we care. I don’t know if they know.”

Ratcliffe wrote in his report that, at the time, neither officer knew that his actions were wrong,

“Both of them believed at the time when they were making the right decision based on the totality of the circumstances presented,” he says.

CNN has reached out to both Pratt and Robins for a response.


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