Gabby Petito’s Family Seek $50M In Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against The Moab City Police Department

Gabby Petito’s family filed a $50 million lawsuit against the Moab City Police Department on Thursday (November 3), alleging that officers were negligent in their interactions with Gabby and Brian Laundrie two weeks before her death last summer.

The Moab City PD is located in Moab, Utah.

The Petito family attorney, James W. McConkie released the following statement pertaining to the lawsuit:

The purpose of this lawsuit is to honor Gabby’s legacy by demanding accountability and working toward systemic changes to protect victims of domestic abuse and violence and prevent such tragedies in the future.

The lawsuit accuses the MCPD (Moab City Police Department) and its officers of failing to follow the law and failing to protect Gabby during an investigation into a domestic altercation in August 2021, approximately two weeks before she was killed by Brian Laundrie.

Gabby’s parents, Joseph Petito her father, and Nichole Schmidt her mother spoke in a news conference on Thursday and said they filed the suit to make sure that the police make the necessary changes to help other abuse victims.

Joseph Petito:

No one here, the four of us, don’t want to be here. We’d give it up in a second if she was back.

Nichole Schmidt:

We feel we need to bring justice because she could have been protected that day. There are laws put in place to protect victims, and those laws were not followed, and we don’t want this to happen to anyone else.

The City of Moab said its officers “acted with kindness, respect, and empathy toward Ms. Petito” during their interaction.

The city also released a statement on Thursday denying responsibility for Ms. Petito’s death.

The death of Gabrielle Petito in Wyoming is a terrible tragedy, and we feel profound sympathy for the Petito and Schmidt families and the painful loss they have endured. 

At the same time, it is clear that Moab City Police Department officers are not responsible for Gabrielle Petito’s eventual murder.

The attorneys for the Petito family seem to suggest that somehow our officers could see into the future based on this single interaction. 

In truth, on Aug. 12, no one could have predicted the tragedy that would occur weeks later and hundreds of miles away, and the City of Moab will ardently defend against this lawsuit.

The 35-page lawsuit is based on the traffic stop last August after officers were informed of a call that a witness “had seen Brian assault Gabby.”

Despite receiving this information, when the officers caught up to Gabby and Brian, they treated Brian like the victim and Gabby like the aggressor.

According to Gabby’s family, a photo taken at the time, which was kept from the public, “shows a close-up view of Gabby’s face where blood is smeared on her cheek and left eye, revealing the violent nature of Brian’s attack.”

Brian returned to his parents’ home in Florida on September 1 without Gabby.

He provided no information about Gabby’s whereabouts to her family who was frantically trying to contact her.

Gabby was eventually reported missing, sparking a nationwide hunt.

Her body was found several weeks later in Grand Teton National Forest in Wyoming.

A coroner later reported Gabby died by strangulation. 

Brian went missing in a Florida nature preserve, and his body was found in mid-October 2021 near a notebook, in which he admitted to killing Gabby.

An independent investigation of the Moab Police Department’s handling of the incident, done by a captain with the police department in Price, Utah, about 115 miles away, suggested the two officers who responded be placed on probation, saying they made “several unintentional mistakes,” the most blaring being failing to cite anyone for domestic violence.

The investigative report, released in January 2022, recommended new policies for the department, including additional domestic violence training and legal training for officers.

The city at the time did not adhere to the disciplinary suggestions of the report but said it “intends to implement the report’s recommendations.”

Gabby Petito’s family put the MCPD on notice in August 2022 by filing a notice of claim, the first step in initiating a lawsuit.

They have also taken legal action against Brian’s estate and have filed suit against his parents accusing them of causing emotional distress for failing to act during the search for Gabby.

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Source: CNN and TMZ

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