Gabby Petito’s family contends in lawsuit Utah cops treated Laundrie like victim


(NEW YORK) — Gabby Petito’s family revealed more details in the police encounter over a domestic violence incident, two weeks before he strangled her to death.

Laundrie “seemed like a mental and emotional bully” to a Utah police officer who responded to a domestic call on Aug. 12, 2021, according to an amended lawsuit filed Wednesday night by Petito’s parents.

Moab Officer Eric Pratt responded to a call from a witness who reported seeing Laundrie hitting Petito.

The officers separated the couple for the night but, according to the lawsuit, treated Laundrie like the victim instead of the aggressor.

“Officer Pratt has also admitted, ‘I thought he was an emotional threat to her. I thought he was a mental threat to her.’ Similarly, he says he concluded during the traffic stop that Brian ‘seemed like a mental and emotional bully,"” the amended complaint said.

“Officer Pratt has also colorfully admitted, ‘I know these kind of guys. Brian didn’t get away with anything for being cute. Brian showed more red flags than a Chinese communist rally."”

Laundrie wasn’t charged and he and Petito kept traveling west on a road trip where police say she was killed.

The family’s amended lawsuit accused Pratt and other officers of failing to properly investigate the incident that preceded Petito’s death and said “Gabby’s murder might have been prevented if the officers had acted properly.”

Between Aug. 27 and Aug. 30, Petito went missing in Wyoming and Laundrie returned to his family’s Florida home on Sept. 1. Petito’s family would report her disappearance on Sept. 11.

Two days after police named Laundrie as a person of interest in Petito’s disappearance, he went missing on Sept 17.

Petito’s body was found on Sept. 19, and an autopsy revealed she died by strangulation.

Police found the Laundrie’s remains inside Carlton Reserve in Florida on Oct. 20 and determined he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The FBI revealed that Laundrie admitted to killing his fiancé.

Petito’s parents filed a lawsuit against Laundrie’s family and a lawsuit against the Moab police department in connection with their daughter’s death.

Attorneys for Christopher and Roberta Laundrie denied the allegations and unsuccessfully sought to dismiss the lawsuit. A jury trial in the case is scheduled to begin in August.

The city of Moab didn’t immediately have a comment about the amended lawsuit.

In November, after the suit was initially filed, the city released a statement saying it was going to defend itself in court and contended “Moab City Police Department officers are not responsible for Gabrielle Petito’s eventual murder.”

The department released a report in January 2022 following an investigation into the officers’ encounter with the couple that found that police made “several unintentional mistakes” responding to the incident, including not issuing a domestic violence citation to Petito after she claimed she hit her boyfriend first, and not taking a statement from a 911 caller who had reported seeing a man slapping a girl.”

In November, Petito’s parents were awarded $3 million in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Laundrie’s estate.

ABC News’ Meredith Deliso contributed to this report.

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