Everything We Know About The Police Lawsuit Filed By Gabby Petito's Parents

The murder case of Gabby Petito by her fiance Brian Laundrie may be closed, but it is still in the public eye.

You may recall, Petito and Laundrie were documenting their summer 2021 cross-country #VanLife adventure on social media, per CNN. But idyllic online experiences can be misleading, and police in Moab City, Utah, pulled over Petito's van following a 911 call witnessing a domestic abuse altercation. The police report described Petito as "confused and emotional," and called the incident not "a domestic assault as much as that of a mental health crisis." No charges were filed.

Petito's New York-based family stopped hearing from her in late August, and reported her missing on September 11. Laundrie returned to Florida on September 1, 2021, in Petito's van but without Petito. Her body was found on September 19 in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming, per the FBI report, noting strangulation as the cause of death. Laundrie had gone hiking on September 13 in a Florida nature reserve, until he too mysteriously went missing. When police found Laundrie's remains in late October, ruling his death by suicide, they also found his notebook where he admitted to killing Petito.

Petito's parents, Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt, brought legal action against Laundrie's parents, accusing them of withholding information to protect their son when Petito went missing. Now on November 3, they've filed a $50 million lawsuit against the Moab City police.

Gabby Petito's parents are suing for wrongful death

On November 3, Gabby Petito's parents filed a lawsuit against the police department in Moab City, Utah, according to CNN. The wrongful death suit alleges negligence on officers' part when they stopped Petito and Brian Laundrie on that August 12, 2021, traffic stop. Footage of the interview, caught by police body cameras, shows Petito saying she hit Laundrie first, even though officers saw that she had bruises, and the witness saw Laundrie hitting Petito.

The notice of claim for the suit says Petito "displayed the classic hallmarks of an abused partner" by putting the blame for the incident on herself. The claim also includes a photo of Petito with bruises from Laundrie. Despite the proof, and inconsistencies in Laundrie's story, the Moab police tried to book Petito as the primary aggressor, per KUTV. They eventually dropped the case when both Petito and Laundrie objected. An independent review conducted in January 2022 recommended the officers involved in the case be placed on probation because of "unintentional mistakes," and recommend additional training for officers responding to domestic violence situations.

Now, Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt are suing for $50 million for wrongful death, accusing the police of failing to protect Petito and misusing Utah's DV laws. They also claim one officer was biased against Petito because of his past experience, per The Salt Lake Tribune. "We feel we need to bring justice because she could have been protected that day," Schmidt said. "There are laws put in place to protect victims, and those laws were not followed, and we don't want this to happen to anyone else."

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.