- An investigation found Moab police officers made mistakes in an encounter with Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie.
- Police were called about a potential domestic violence incident involving the couple on August 12.
- Petito went missing weeks later and her body was found in a remote area of Wyoming on September 19.
The police officers who responded to an incident involving Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie weeks before she disappeared made “several unintentional mistakes,” according to an independent report commissioned by the city of Moab, Utah.
On August 12, officers from the Moab Police Department responded to a potential domestic violence incident after a witness reported seeing the couple in an altercation. Officers pulled over the van and questioned the pair, before determining the incident was a mental health crisis and recommending they spend the night apart.
Petito was last seen on August 24 and reported missing by her family on September 11. Her body was found on September 19 in a remote camping area in Wyoming.
The city of Moab ordered an independent review of the August 12 incident. The report, along with a statement from the city, was obtained by Insider on Wednesday. It was conducted by Captain Brandon Ratcliffe of the Price City Police Department.
“The independent agency’s investigative report finds that the officers who responded to the incident made several unintentional mistakes that stemmed from the fact that officers failed to cite Ms. Petito for domestic violence,” the city’s statement said.
The report evaluated how the officers, Eric Pratt and Daniel Robbins, responded to the incident with Petito and Laundrie, identifying a number of mistakes the officers made. It said the case report compiled by police labeled the incident a case of “Disorderly Conduct,” when actually it should have been labeled as “domestic violence related.”
The report also said the officers failed to enforce the law by not citing Petito, who was determined to be the aggressor in the situation, for domestic violence.
“They responded to a confirmed domestic violence incident and they had evidence showing an assault had taken place. The statements of all those involved, along with the evidence presented, provided probable cause for an arrest,” the report said.
The report concluded the officers’ mistakes were unintentional and that “they both believed at the time they were making the right decision based on the totality of the circumstances that were presented.”
“There were mistakes made in how this case was handled. If this case was handled flawlessly, would it have changed anything? Nobody knows,” the report said.
Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino told Insider of the report: “Although the officers may not have followed the letter of the law in not citing Gabby, I believe they did the best they could given the responsiveness of both Brian and Gabby during the traffic stop.”
“To label every disagreement between couples a citable domestic violence incident is to criminalize human emotions and reactions that should be dealt with outside of the criminal code,” he continued. “We may never know if citing Gabby, or Brian for that matter, would have been the deciding factor in the final outcome.”
A lawyer for the Petito family did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The report recommended Pratt and Robbins be placed on probation, and for the department to undergo training on domestic violence and report writing, among other suggestions.
“Based on the report’s findings, the City of Moab believes our officers showed kindness, respect, and empathy in their handling of this incident,” the city said.
The city also said it plans to hire a trained domestic violence specialist and other domestic violence resources for its officers.