SARASOTA, Fla. — The law firm representing Gabby Petito’s family has released a photo that shows her face bloodied, claiming officers should’ve taken action before her murder.
The photo, released by the Parker and McConkie law firm, was found on Petito’s cell phone and was taken in the back of her van in Moab, Utah, on Aug. 12, 2021. The photo was taken just before her stop by Moab City Police after a bystander witnessed a domestic dispute between her and fiancé Brian Laundrie.
Petito had been on a cross-country trip with Laundrie and was reported missing by her family on Sept. 11, 2021. Her body was found near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on Sept. 19, 2021. Her death was ruled a homicide due to strangulation.
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The attorney representing the Petito family in a wrongful death complaint said that during the stop, she attempted to tell the Moab police officers about the injury but the assault and injury were ignored. Moab police instructed Petito and Laundrie to separate for the night rather than issue a domestic violence citation or investigate further.
Laundrie was the lone person of interest in the homicide investigation. His body was found on Oct. 20, 2021, after he died by suicide.
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“The officers ignored this critical evidence and did nothing to follow up on, or to further investigate, Gabby’s report that Brian had violently grabbed her face and cut her cheek,” the Parker and McConkie law firm said in a news release.
The Petito family has supported the passage of a Utah law to require the use of training and procedures to identify and prevent similar tragedies in the future by using a lethality assessment.
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The law would require law enforcement throughout Utah to ask a series of 11 questions in situations where they suspect intimate partner violence, including questions on prior threats, access to firearms and a history of behavior such as choking, jealousy or spying.
“Our daughter, Gabby, died as a result of intimate partner violence that could have and should have been identified by law enforcement using the lethality assessment,” Petito’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, said in a statement. “We believe that if the lethality assessment had been properly used in her situation, together with the recommended support and resources, Gabby would still be alive today.”
Contributing: The Associated Press