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Report: Petito Likely 'Long- Term' Domestic Violence Victim

'Mistakes' were made in Aug. 12 police stop, independent report adds
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 13, 2022 10:10 AM CST
Report: 'Mistakes' Were Made in Petito Police Stop
This police camera video shows Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito talking to a police officer after police pulled over the van she was traveling in with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, near the entrance to Arches National Park on Aug. 12, 2021.   (The Moab City Police Department via AP)

(Newser) – An investigation has found that Utah police made "several unintentional mistakes" when they stopped Gabby Petito and her boyfriend before she was killed, per the AP. The independent report released Wednesday examines a police stop in Moab on Aug. 12 after the couple's van was seen speeding and hit a curb. Officers investigated a fight between Petito and Brian Laundrie but ultimately determined Petito was the aggressor. They allowed the couple to leave after requiring them to spend a night apart. Petito's strangled body was discovered Sept. 19 in Wyoming. Laundrie, who later died by suicide, was the only person ever identified by law enforcement officials as a person of interest in the case.

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"Would Gabby be alive today if this case was handled differently? That is an impossible question to answer," wrote Capt. Brandon Ratcliffe, from the police department in Price, Utah, who prepared the 102-page report, per FOX 13. It cited the officers for not citing Petito for domestic violence, and not obtaining a statement from a 911 caller who reported seeing a male aggressor. While Utah law says police shall cite or arrest aggressors in domestic violence assaults, rather than citing Petito the two Moab officers found the incident was more of a mental or emotional health break. One officer who argued against citing her said Laundrie might bail her out of jail and then have "more control over her."

The report recommends improved training, especially in domestic violence investigations, and that the officers involved be put on probation or have existing probation extended. Ratcliffe wrote that while Petito may have been the main aggressor in this specific fight, that doesn't mean she was the predominant aggressor in the relationship, KSL.com reported. "It's very likely Gabby was a long-term victim of domestic violence, whether that be physically, mentally, and/or emotionally," Ratcliffe wrote. (Read more Gabby Petito stories.)

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