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Investigation Finds Police Officers In Gabby Petito & Brian Laundrie Incident Made ‘Unintentional Mistakes’

Photo: Moab Police Department
Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie body cam footage

An independent investigation into the handling of a domestic violence call involving Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie has concluded that should be placed on probabtion.

The infamous August 12 traffic stop in Moab, Utah has haunted many who followed the nationally covered manhunt for Laundrie and search for Petito as many believe the Moab police officers could have prevented Petito's death.

The 99-page investigative review of the traffic stop has confirmed that the call was likely mishandled.

Moab police made several 'unintentional mistakes' while dealing with Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie.

On that day, which preceeded Petito's death by just a couple of weeks, police officers responded to a 911 call from someone reporting a domestic violence incident occurring outside of the Moonflower Co-op in the town of Moab.

RELATED: Brian Laundrie's Parents Have Requested His Notebook — And May Know The Contents Soon

“We drove by and the gentleman was slapping the girl,” said the caller. “They ran up and down the sidewalk, he proceeded to hit her, hopped in the car, and they drove off.”

Police officers failed to investigate whether Brian Laundrie was the aggressor.

According to the 911 caller, Laundrie was the aggressor and had hit Petito in the face, but when the police officers spoke to the couple both claimed that Petito was the only who was physical aggressive.

Instead of acknowledging the original report from the caller, the police officers appeared to only take Laundrie and Petito's account of the events rather than digging deeper.

Hence, police concluded that it was Petito who was the “predominant aggressor.”

“Just because Gabby was determined to be the predominant aggressor as it related to this incident,” the report said, “doesn’t mean she was the long-term predominant aggressor in this relationship.”

Police officers missed an opportunity to follow up with Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito.

“There were mistakes made in how this case was handled,” the person conducting the review said. “If this case was handled flawlessly, would it have changed anything? Nobody knows.”

However, aside from the fact that the officers failed to recall the original caller’s report, the report says that the mistakes made by the officers “stemmed from the fact that officers failed to cite Ms. Petito for domestic violence.”

Had the Moab Police Department actually filed the incident under “domestic violence” and not “disorderly conduct” as they did, it would have warranted a follow-up with the couple and could have potentially uncovered more information on the inner workings of their relationship.

RELATED: 30 Important Domestic Violence Lessons To Learn From The Gabby Petito Brian Laundrie Case

Instead, the couple continued their roadtrip after this encounter, leading to Petito being tragically strangled to death in Wyoming sometime in late August or early September. 

The report states is would have been 'difficult' to charge Brian Laundrie.

"The lack of emotion & fear from Brian may point towards someone who is the predominant aggressor but as previously mentioned, Gabby’s statements to law enforcement make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to substantiate a charge against Brian as it relates to this," said the report.

RELATED: Moab Police Department Made Almost $3,000 From Gabby Petito Bodycam Footage — But Have To Pay It Back

Because Petito openly took responsibility for the domestic violence call and denied that Laundrie had ever been physical towards her, there likely would have been no basis for a charge against Laundrie.

The report recommends Moab police undergo more domestic violence training.

Without the proper training and experience, it would’ve been hard to tell that Petito had been a long-term victim. Consequently, the report includes suggestions to ensure this mistake is not made again.

Some of these suggestions included: more domestic violence investigation training, additional legal training, to make sure officers understand state laws and statutes, an overall policy review, a software review, and strengthening the review process for incident reports.

Although the officers made these unintentional mistakes, the report makes sure to mention that it wasn’t entirely their fault that things ended up the way they did.

"The officers did not know what they were doing was wrong at the time and did not make the decision to benefit themselves in any way,” said the report. “They both believed at the time they were making the right decision based on the totality of the circumstances that were presented."

The report also recommended that the officers should either be put on probation or their probations should be extended, but the city of Moab has not announced whether they plan to move forward with that recommendation.

In response to the report, the city of Moab did, however, release a statement, saying that “Based on the report’s findings, the City of Moab believes our officers showed kindness, respect and empathy in their handling of this incident.”

They added that they would hire a trained domestic violence specialist to oversee the police’s investigations, and more training and testing for officers will also take place.

RELATED: Private Investigator In Case Of Murdered Newlywed Utah Couple Says Brian Laundrie Is On His List Of Potential Suspects

Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.

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