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Parents Say Police Who Questioned Gabby Petito During Traffic Stop Could Have Prevented Her Murder: Lawsuit

The parents of Gabby Petito, 22, whose boyfriend killed her during a 2021 trip to Utah, claim that the police department's negligence led to her death

Moab City Police Department Gabby Petito in Aug. 2021
Moab City Police Department Gabby Petito in Aug. 2021

Gabby Petito’s parents are headed to court again in their lawsuit against police in Moab, Utah, alleging the department could have prevented the young woman's death when they stopped her and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, on the couple's cross country road trip in 2001.

On Feb. 25, Joseph Petito and Nicole Schmidt, Gabby's parents, filed a second amended complaint in their $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against the Moab City Police Department, according to the complaint, which was obtained by PEOPLE.


According to a press statement from Brian C. Stewart of the Parker & McConkie law firm, a previous complaint filed by the parents was stalled due to a stay issued by a Utah court. But on Feb. 22, that stay was lifted, enabling the complaint to proceed.

The complaint concerns the Aug. 12, 2021, police interaction with Gabby and Laundrie that was captured on body camera footage. Police stopped the couple after a bystander reported witnessing a domestic dispute. The footage shows Gabby, 22, sobbing and Laundrie, 23, appearing unfazed.

Related: Gabby Petito's Parents Are 'Outraged' Over 'Burn After Reading' Letter Allegedly Written by Brian Laundrie's Mom

The complaint alleges officers failed to recognize the warning signs of domestic violence that placed Gabby at risk of escalating harm. It further argues police should have taken the 911 caller's report — in which the caller reported witnessing Laundrie striking Gabby outside a co-operative market — more seriously.

People's 2021 Cover Story on Gabby Petito
People's 2021 Cover Story on Gabby Petito

The suit also contends the police should have reacted differently to the cuts they observed on Gabby's cheek, which she said she received when he grabbed her face violently during an argument. In the video, Gabby defends Laundrie's actions, telling police they got into a fight and that she'd hit him in the face.

Related: Gabby Petito’s Parents Reach Settlement with Brian Laundrie’s Parents to Avoid Emotional Distress Trial

In paperwork filed after the incident, police labeled entire call as a "mental health crisis" rather than an incident of domestic violence.

Weeks after the interaction, Laundrie killed Gabby.

<p>Find Gabby/Facebook</p> Gabby Petito, Brian Laundrie

Find Gabby/Facebook

Gabby Petito, Brian Laundrie

In the amended complaint, the parents claim that the alleged negligence of the Moab City Police Department in “hiring, training, supervising and retaining of certain officers as well as the negligence of these officers in violating Utah law – for which Moab City Police Department is vicariously liable – caused Gabby’s tragic and untimely death.”

Related: Newly Released Photo Shows Gabby Petito Documenting Face Injuries Before Encountering Moab Police

In the press statement, Schmidt said, “We will never stop seeking justice for Gabby and working for the protection of other victims of domestic violence.”

The Moab City Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Last month, Gabby's parents reached a settlement with Laundrie's parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie, on an emotional distress lawsuit. That suit alleged that the Laundries knew that Gabby had died and the location of her deceased body after a nationwide search for her whereabouts began after she vanished.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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Read the original article on People.