Lawyers for Gabby Petito’s family announced Monday they filed a notice to claim, the first step in initiating a negligence lawsuit against the Moab Police Department (UT). The attorney’s say the police department could have prevented their daughter's death by intervening further when officers responded to a fight between Petito and her fiancé weeks before her death.
The lawsuit will be seeking $50 million in damages from the police department, as well as city and state officials.
"Gabby's parents are bringing this lawsuit to honor Gabby's legacy by working to save the lives of victims of domestic violence throughout the United States and the world," said James McConkie, an attorney with Parker & McConkie, which is representing the Petito family, during a press conference Monday.
Petito and fiancé Brian Laundrie were pulled over by police in Moab on Aug. 12, 2021, after 911 dispatchers received reports that the two were fighting, reports KSL FM. Body camera footage from the interaction raised criticism as to whether further intervention could have prevented Petito's death.
At the time, police determined Petito was the primary aggressor. The videos don't show Moab officers asking about details to determine whether Petito was acting in self-defense, they instead ask Petito if she meant to hurt him.
Petito’s body was found on Sept. 19, 2021, at the Spread Creek Dispersed Camping Area in Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest and the coroner’s office ruled she died from blunt force trauma and strangulation. Laundrie’s body was found in Florida after he died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. However, police say he left a letter admitting he had killed Petito.
"While the full evidence has not yet been made public, when it is released, it will clearly show that if the officers had been properly trained and followed the law, Gabby would still be alive today," said McConkie. "The Moab City Police Department has neglected its duty to provide the training and resources its officers need to do their job. This is an institutional failure plain and simple."