x
Breaking News
More () »

Investigator recommends placing Moab officers involved in Petito, Laundrie argument on probation

The 99-page report, conducted by an independent investigator, details several "unintentional mistakes." law enforcement made that day.

MOAB, Utah — It's been nearly four months since the disappearance of 22-year-old Gabby Petito captivated the nation. And, while law enforcement has since confirmed her death, there are still many questions surrounding the series of events that led to the tragic incident.

One of those questions being, whether or not officers in Moab, Utah properly handled an incident involving Petito and her fiancé Brian Laundrie a month before she was reported missing. During the couple's cross-country trip, body camera video shows police pulling the two over after receiving reports of possible domestic violence. 

Now, an independent investigation into the way officers handled the incident has led to several recommendations. 

According to the 99-page report, officers Pratt and Robbins made "several unintentional mistakes." Some of those included not arresting Petito based on probable cause. According to the report, in that particular incident, Laundrie was the victim. 

In the body camera video, Petito explains she was stressed out and straightening up the couple's van since she deals with OCD. While talking to the officer, she says she was apologizing to Laundrie who, she adds, was frustrated with her.

At some point, Petito says he locked her out and told her to "go take a breather."

RELATED: Family of Gabby Petito launches foundation to help locate missing persons and support survivors of domestic violence

However, fearing she would get separated from him or be left without a ride in Moab, police say she went to slap Laundrie. He pushed her away to avoid the slap, police determined. But, according to the remarks in the body camera video, it appears she lightly scratched his face.

"The lack of emotion and 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 incident," the report says.

The officers would eventually categorize the incident as disorderly conduct, but the report says it should have been classified as domestic violence and followed up on. 

Furthermore, officers set Laundrie up with a hotel room to diffuse the tension between the two, but the investigator found neither Petito nor Laundrie were provided with local resources for victims of domestic violence. 

"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," the report says. "They both believed at the time they were making the right decision based on the totality of the circumstances that were presented."

In the end, the investigator made several recommendations to the Moab Police Department. Some of those included placing both officers on probation as well as providing domestic violence training.

In response to the report, the city of Moab said:

"Based on the report’s findings, the city of Moab believes our officers showed kindness, respect and empathy in their handling of this incident. As the Moab City Police Department continues its daily mission to serve our community, efforts are underway to provide additional resources and tools to assist in addressing domestic violence incidents."

RELATED: Brian Laundrie's parents file to take over his estate

Petito was reported missing on Sept. 11 after setting out on a cross-country trip with Laundrie. Her disappearance captured the nation's attention when Laundrie returned home to North Port with the van but without her.

Investigators attempted to work with Laundrie on Petito's whereabouts but he remained "uncooperative" with police. He'd later be named a person of interest in her disappearance before being reported missing himself. 

On Sept. 21, the FBI in Denver positively identified the body found in Grand Teton National Park as Petito. Two days later, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Laundrie in connection to Petito's case. 

One month later, the FBI confirmed human remains found at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in Sarasota County, Florida, belonged to Laundrie. His cause of death was determined as a self-inflicted gunshot wound.