Gabby Petito case: officers who arrested couple should be placed on probation, investigator recommends
Two police officers who responded to a domestic violence call involving Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie Last year in Moab, Utah, was set to be put on probation for what the city called “several unintentional mistakes” made during the meeting, according to an independent investigator.
Petito and Laundrie were driving through Moab on August 12 as part of a long road trip when police responded to a call in which a witness said they saw the couple in a marital dispute before walking away.
Police arrested the couple after the van exceeded the speed limit, abruptly pulled out of its lane and struck a sidewalk, according to a police report.
Body camera video from Constables Eric Pratt and Daniel Robbins shows Petito and Laundrie – who were engaged – admitting to an argument in which Petito said he punched his fiance first.
During lengthy conversations recorded on body cameras, Pratt said Petito should be incarcerated because, under Utah’s domestic violence laws, she is considered the primary aggressor and Laundrie the victim.
Petito and Laundrie both objected, and the officers ultimately agreed not to charge Petito as long as she and Laundrie agreed to spend the night separately.
In the independent investigation report, Captain Brandon Ratcliffe of the Price City Police Department said the officers had neglected their duty by not laying any charges.
“I think the police responded to a domestic violence call and it was likely that an act of domestic violence had been committed,” Ratcliffe said. “It should have meant that an arrest was made, either by summons or by custody.”
However, Ratcliffe noted that there appeared to be only sufficient evidence to indict Petito in the case, not Laundrie.
As part of their vanlife road trip, which was recounted on social media, Petito and Laundrie then traveled to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming before Laundrie returned to his parents’ home in Florida on September 1 on his own.
After Petito was reported missing by her family, her remains were found in Wyoming in mid-September. A coroner said she died from strangulation.
The laundry went missing just days after Petito went missing. He was found dead in a Florida nature reserve on October 20 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
The FBI described Laundrie as a “person of interest” in Petito’s disappearance, but an arrest warrant only accused him of illegally using another person’s debit card and PIN and n was not linked to his death.
Ratcliffe, who was commissioned by the city to look into the incident, said he could not speculate that various actions by the officers in August could have prevented Petito’s death.
“Would Gabby be alive today if this matter were handled any differently? That’s an impossible question to answer although that’s the answer many people want to know,” the report said. “No one knows and no one will ever know the answer to this question.”
In a statement, the city did not raise any potential discipline for the two officers, but said it “intends to implement the report’s recommendations” on the police department’s new policies, including a additional training on domestic violence and legal training for officers.
“Based on the report’s findings, the city of Moab believes our officers have shown kindness, respect and empathy in their handling of this incident,” the city statement said.
In an interview for the inquest, Pratt said that while he accepts that he made mistakes during the shutdown, he is still haunted by Petito’s death.
“I care. I’m devastated about it,” he said. “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 do. know. “
Ratcliffe writes in his report that at the time no officer knew his actions were wrong,
“They both believed at the time that they were making the right decision based on all of the circumstances that presented themselves,” he said.
CNN has reached out to Pratt and Robbins for a response.