Photo in lawsuit shows Gabby Petito injuries prior to police stop

Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 1:13 PM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - New photos released by the attorneys in a lawsuit against the Moab, Utah, Police Department show a cell phone image taken by Gabby Petito of cuts and smeared blood on her face prior to a domestic violence traffic stop in Moab.

Gabby’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Moab police in November 2022 over their response to a 2021 domestic call between the woman and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie.

Her family members are seeking $50 million in damages from the Moab Police Department, arguing officers’ negligence abrogated their duty, violated Utah law and led to her tragic death.

Petito was found dead in Wyoming weeks after Moab officers responded to a domestic violence call and didn’t cite or arrest either her or her boyfriend.

“As alleged in the Complaint, filed by Parker & McConkie law firm on Nov. 3, 2022, ‘Gabby took a photograph of her injury, which shows blood across her nose and left eye. Gabby pointed out the injury to Officer Pratt, but he ignored her and did nothing more to investigate or document the injury,’ " a news released on the attorney’s website says.

The photo shows Gabby with blood smeared on her cheek and a cut across her left eye, cheek and nose.

ABC7 News at 6pm

A domestic violence expert said it appears she was grabbed over her face in such a way that her airways were likely obstructed. Gabby documented the injury and, during the stop, told the Moab Police about the injury.

Police officers did not follow up on her injuries, the attorney’s allege.

“The officers ignored this critical evidence and did nothing to follow up on, or to further investigate, Gabby’s report that Brian had violently grabbed her face and cut her cheek,” the website says. “The Utah Criminal Code’s definition of aggravated assault includes any act that impedes the breathing or circulation through an act of violence by ‘applying pressure to the neck or throat’ or by ‘obstructing the nose, mouth, or airway.’ UCA 26-5-103 (b). Domestic violence experts who have reviewed the evidence have stated that “all the clues lead us to conclude that Gabby was most likely strangled and/or suffocated by Brian before the police arrived on August 12, 2021.” Domestic violence research shows that if a victim of intimate partner violence is strangled or suffocated even one time, she is 750% more likely to be killed by that person.”

A couple of weeks after that incident, it is believed Laundrie killed Petito before returning to his North Port home in her van.

Laundrie went missing in Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park. His body was found in mid-October.

He took his own life and admitted to the slaying in a note found next to his body.

Last week, while in Utah to support passage of a law to require use of training and procedures to more effectively identify and assess these dangers.

Gabby’s mother, Nichole Schmidt, gave the following statement, “Our daughter, Gabby, died as a result of intimate partner violence that could have and should have been identified by law enforcement using the lethality assessment. We believe that if the lethality assessment had been properly used in her situation, together with the recommended support and resources, Gabby would still be alive today.”