Days before Gabby Petito went missing, Moab, Utah police stopped Petito and Brian Laundrie in their white Ford van after they received reports of a domestic incident.
As Mamas Uncut previously reported, a 911 caller told authorities on August 12, 2021, that he witness a man and a woman in a physical scuffle before they got into their van and drove off. Eventually, Moab police caught up with the couple to ask questions.
While an official statement was never taken from the person who called 911, officers reported that Gabby was in a “manic state.” And after talking with both Brian and Gabby, came to the conclusion that it was Petito who was the aggressor.
In the police report, officers wrote down what Gabby told them herself, that she was “struggling with her mental health.” But in the end, no citations or arrests were made.
“After evaluating the totality of the circumstances, I do not believe the situation escalated to the level of a domestic assault as much as that of a mental health crisis,” a report by officer Daniel Robbins read. “I then determined the most appropriate course of action would be to help separate the parties for the night so they could reset their mental states without interference from one another.”
Police Who Responded to Domestic Stop Involving Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie Admit Mistakes in New Report
Now, following the investigation that took place to see if the first responders handled the situation properly, the results of that investigation have been made public.
According to KUTV, the captain in charge of the investigation, Capt. Brandon Ratcliffe of the Price City Police Department says that while mistakes were made, they were not made intentionally.
“After reviewing all the information and speaking with the officers, I am confident and comfortable in stating the mistakes that were made were not made intentionally. 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. They both believed at the time they were making the right decision based on the totality of the circumstances that were presented.”
As a result, Ratcliffe recommends probation for the responding officers, as well as additional domestic violence investigation training and legal training. Ratcliffe also suggested that the department needs to conduct “reviews into police policies and software and strengthening the process for incident reports.”
As Melissa Hulls, a visitor and resource protection supervisor at Arches National Park in Utah revealed to the Deseret News in September, she had the opportunity to speak to Petito while they were pulled over.
Hulls told the Deseret News that she “was probably more candid with her than I should’ve been.” She admitted she even told Gabby Petito that her relationship with Brian Laundrie was “toxic.”
“I was imploring with her to reevaluate the relationship, asking her if she was happy in the relationship with him, and basically saying this was an opportunity for her to find another path, to make a change in her life. She had a lot of anxiety about being away from him, I honestly thought if anything was going to change it would be after they got home to Florida.”
However, in the end, the call was to give Petito and Laundrie the option to separate for the night. This allowed them to meet up with each other together again.
As Hulls said, while it is hard not to second guess herself, at the time, she was steadfast in saying she and the other officers did what they thought was the right thing to do at the time. They didn’t believe Petito was in any grave danger at the time.
“I wouldn’t have called (the relationship) unsafe,” Hulls explained. “If we had any reason to think any one of them was in danger, we would’ve separated them.”
“It’s not that we didn’t think he was manipulative, but we have to worry about the safety, and not the psychology of it. We have to go by the facts that we were faced with at the time, and not let our emotions drive the decision.”
By August 27, Gabby Petito’s parents stopped hearing from her. Brian returned to Florida without her and Petito’s body was discovered in the Grand Tetons on September 19.
After it was confirmed that Gabby was killed by manual strangulation, Brian Laundrie also disappeared. Parts of his body were found weeks later with a single gunshot wound to the head.
If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic violence, please reach out for help. The number for the national domestic violence hotline is 800.799.SAFE (7233).
Sara Vallone has been a writer and editor for the last four and a half years. A graduate of Ohio University, she enjoys celebrity news, sports, and articles that enhance people’s lives.
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