Gabby Petito’s injuries in Utah domestic dispute call with Brian Laundrie revealed in new photo
New images of Gabby Petito show the 22-year-old’s face covered in blood and bruises after a domestic abuse incident that occurred during her ultimately fatal road trip with ex-fiancé Brian Laundrie.
The images were released by attorneys for Petito’s family and were pulled off of her phone.
The attorneys first noted the photo’s existence in a wrongful death lawsuit against the Moab City Police Department. An officer from the department encountered the couple on 12 August, 2021, after a witness saw them fighting and called to report the incident.
Petito was murdered during the couple’s road trip. A notebook found with Laundrie’s remains in a Florida nature preserve months later included a confession that he killed Petito.
The witness said they saw Laundrie hitting Petito and attempting to take her phone from her so he could drive off and leave her at a co-op in Moab.
Petito reportedly took the photo herself shortly before the pair were stopped by Moab police, Fox News reports, citing the law firm.
“According to the available data, the image was taken at 4.37pm, at or before the approximate time of the initial 911 call,” the law firm said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
The couple were questioned by Moab police for approximately an hour, after which they were split up for an evening. Neither Petito nor Laundrie pressed charges. The attorneys representing Petito's family have pointed to a Utah statue that requires an arrest or citation in domestic abuse situations.
The civil complaint against the department alleges the responding officer, Eric Pratt, ignored her "and did nothing more to investigate or document the injury."
The Independent has reached out to the department for comment.
"The photo demonstrates the cut previously noted on her left cheek as well as blood smeared from her forehead, across her left eye and cheek and over her nose, indicating that she was grabbed over her face in such a way that her airways were likely obstructed,"the family's attorneys said in a statement.
The complaint says that the "seriousness and significance of this type of assault and injury was completely ignored."
An internal review by the Moab City Police Department found that Mr Pratt and fellow officer Daniel Robbins made "unintentional mistakes" in their assessment of the situation.
"Moab Police failed to recognize the violent grabbing of Gabby’s face and obstruction of her nose, mouth, and airways as a critical precursor to her eventual death by strangulation that occurred a short time later," the attorneys' statement said. "Moab Police failed to listen to Gabby, failed to investigate her injuries and the seriousness of her assault, and failed to follow their own training, policies, and Utah law."
A nationwide search for Petito began in early September after Laundrie returned to Florida without her. Shortly thereafter Laundrie also disappeared, after which Petito's remains were found on 18 September in Wyoming.
Police searched for Laundrie for weeks, eventually locating his remains in a nature preserve near his home on 20 October.