Gabby Petito’s family sues police for $50 million

Dominic Smithers

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Gabby Petito’s family sues police for $50 million

Featured Image Credit: @gabspetito/Instagram/TMZ

Gabby Petito's family is suing police in Utah for $50 million (£41m) following her death last year.

The 22-year-old disappeared during a cross-country road trip with her fiancé Brian Laundrie. 

Her remains were discovered on 19 September in a remote area of Bridger-Teton National Forest. She was last seen alive in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 24 August.

The authorities later revealed that her body had been there for about a month, and that she had died by strangulation in a homicide.

The lawsuit, which is being filed by Joseph and Tara Petito and Nichole and Jim Schmidt, names Moab Police Department, as well as three officers; 'Palmer', 'Pratt', and a Daniel Robbins.

Ten other unnamed defendants have also been accused of 'negligent failure' during their investigation into an alleged assault against Petito by Laundrie prior to her disappearance.

Gabby Petito disappeared during a road trip with her boyfriend last year. Credit: ZUMA Press Inc/Alamy
Gabby Petito disappeared during a road trip with her boyfriend last year. Credit: ZUMA Press Inc/Alamy

The family also accused them all of 'wrongful death', claiming that Petito's 'death was caused by their wrongful acts or neglect'.

The lawsuit relates to a domestic violence case the family claims police failed to investigate properly prior to her death.

Officers pulled the couple’s van over following reports that Laundrie had struck her, just days before she was killed. They did not arrest Laundrie at the time.

Speaking during a press conference outlining the notice of intent, which is a precursor to a full lawsuit, the Petito family's legal team claimed that evidence will show that police failed in their duty.

They argue that the police department suffered for years from 'high turnover, lack of leadership and dangerous mismanagement'.

One of the family's attorneys, James McConkie, said: "While the full evidence has not been made public, when it is released, it will clearly show that if officers had been properly trained and followed the law, Gabby would still be alive today.

"Failure to follow the law can have deadly consequences, as it did in this case."

Moab Police Department now has 60 days to respond to the notice.

Earlier this year, Laundrie's family released a letter written by him in which he confessed to Petito's murder.

A notebook found by Laundrie’s body, which was originally obtained by Fox, explains why he killed his girlfriend, claiming that she had injured herself and was in extreme pain.

He wrote: "I ended her life, I thought it was merciful, that it is what she wanted, but I see now all the mistakes I made.

Gabby Petito's family are suing the police for $50m. Credit: Nomadik Static/YouTube
Gabby Petito's family are suing the police for $50m. Credit: Nomadik Static/YouTube

"I panicked, I was in shock. But from the moment I decided, took away her pain, I knew I couldn’t go on without her.”

He added: "I’m sorry for everyone’s loss. Please do not make life harder for my family, they lost a son and a daughter. The most wonderful girl in the world. Gabby I'm sorry.

"I have killed myself by this creek in the hopes that animals may tear me apart. That it may make some of her family happy.”

The note ends: “Please pick up all of my things. Gabby hated people who litter."

Patrick Reilly, an attorney for Petito’s family, told People at the time that the claims were 'nonsense'.

Mr Reilly said: "He is writing a letter as though he wants people to feel sorry for him."

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Topics: News, US News, Gabby Petito, Police, Crime, True crime

Dominic Smithers
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