Police Admit 'Mistakes' in Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie Traffic Stop Before Tragic Murder

An independent investigator report in the Gabby Petito case reveals that officers who stopped Petito and her fiance Brian Laundrie in Utah and found a distraught Petito after an apparent domestic violence incident had a missed opportunity to intervene. Days after the police interaction, Petito was declared missing and her body was later discovered. Laundrie was a person of interest in her disappearance but he too went MIA and was later found dead of an apparent suicide. Now, the investigators say had police intervened in a different way, it could have been a different outcome.

The investigator notes that the two officers who spoke with Petito and Laundrie in Utah should be put on probation for "several unintentional mistakes" made during the encounter. As part of Petito and Laundrie's lengthy road trip, police responded to a call in which a witness said he saw the couple involved in a domestic dispute. Officers Eric Pratt and Daniel Robbins pulled the couple over and bodycam footage showed Petito in distress, crying over an argument. Laundrie had scratches on his face and arms. In the footage, Petito admitted to striking Laundrie first. 

The officers agreed not to charge Petito with any crime, as long as she and Laundrie agreed to spend the night apart. But per Capt. Brandon Ratcliffe, who was charged with the independent investigation, said officers neglected their duty by failing to press any charges.

"I believe the officers responded to a domestic violence call and had probable cause an act of domestic violence had been committed," said Ratcliffe. "This should have meant an arrest was made, either by citation or custody."

His report continued: "Would Gabby be alive today if this case was handled differently? That is an impossible question to answer despite it being the answer many people want to know. Nobody knows and nobody will ever know the answer to that question. They both believed at the time they were making the right decision based on the totality of the circumstances that were presented."

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In an interview for the investigation, Pratt said that he's still haunted by Petito's death. "I do care. I am devastated about it," he said, per CNN. "I cared that day and I still care. I don't think the public gets that we...I don't know if they know we care. I don't know if they know."