Gabby Petito's family is not done looking for justice yet. The grieving parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the police in Moab, Utah on Monday, according to a report by NBC News. They are seeking $50 million in damages, claiming that the police did not properly prepare their officers to handle domestic violence cases.
Petito went missing in September of 2021 during a prolonged camping trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie. The two were touring the country in a small camper and were near Teton National Park when the 22-year-old Petito disappeared. Some of the last people to see her alive were the police officers who responded to a domestic violence call about the couple. After a long search and a media frenzy, Laundrie died by suicide, leaving behind a note where he confessed to Petito's murder. Now, Petito's family argues that that interaction with police was the last chance to save their daughter.
The lawsuit names the Moab City Police Department, its then-Chief Bret Edge, its former Assistant Chief Braydon Palmer, officer Eric Pratt and Officer Daniel Robbins. Pratt and Robbins were the officers who responded to a call when Petito and Laundrie were in a car crash on Aug. 12, 2021. The filing argues that there is training available that would have helped Pratt and Robbins recognize signs of domestic abuse and assess Laundrie's "lethality," but they were simply not trained.
"This is an institutional failure plain and simple," said attorney James McConkie. He also said: "While the full evidence has not yet been made public, when it is released, it will clearly show that if the officers had been properly trained and followed the law, Gabby would still be alive today," and argued that the Moab City Police Department has "chronic problems with protecting" victims of domestic violence.
That new evidence reportedly includes a photo of Petito with blood smeared on her face that has never been released to the public before. The legal team argues that this is yet another important sign that officers failed to take into consideration when dealing with Petito and Laundrie on that day, as it contradicts Laundrie's version of events and suggests that Petito might have been speaking under duress.
Petito's mother, Nicole Schmidt, spoke through tears at a press conference on Monday. She said: "This is just bringing back a lot of pain. We're going to do whatever we can. That's why we're here." So far, the police have not responded publicly to this lawsuit.