Content warning: This story discusses domestic violence, death and suicide.
Nearly four months after Gabby Petito's body was found in Wyoming, authorities are continuing to investigate the events leading up to her death.
Last fall, police in Moab, Utah, released body cam footage showing a dispute between Petito and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, which took place the month before she was reported missing. Officers stopped the couple, who were taking a road trip in their van, after receiving a 911 call of an alleged domestic dispute.
A new investigation determined that the police officers who responded to the incident made "several unintentional mistakes," according to a statement from the City of Moab obtained by E! News on Wednesday, Jan. 12, along with a copy of the report.
The city said an independent law enforcement agency completed a "thorough review" of the Aug. 12 stop involving Petito, 22, and Laundrie, 23. Per the statement, the officers failed to cite Petito for domestic violence and said a statement was never obtained from the original 911 caller.
Following an investigation by Captain Brandon Ratcliffe of the Price City Police Department, the report concludes that it's "very likely" Petito was a "long-term victim of domestic violence, whether that be physically, mentally, and/or emotionally."
"Gabby had a job which she left in order to travel the country with Brian. Gabby was trying to start an online career which Brian didn't support or believe she could accomplish," it read. "Brian tried locking Gabby out of the van in an attempt to control her movements. Brian said he was trying to 'make' Gabby calm down and Gabby said she was trying to get Brian to stop telling her to calm down. Gabby also said Brian kept telling her to 'shut up.'"
The investigator said he could "only assume" that Laundrie grabbed Petito's face to try to "make" her calm down or be quiet. He noted, "The specific act of grabbing someone's face is extremely personal, violent, and controlling. Just because there may have been some signs that Brian was the long-term predominant aggressor, law enforcement could only act on the information they were provided."
The conclusion also stated, "Just because Gabby was determined to be the predominant aggressor as it related to this incident, doesn't mean she was the long-term predominant aggressor in this relationship. Oftentimes in cases of domestic violence, the long-term victim gets to a point emotionally where they defend themselves or act out in such a way where law enforcement is summoned."
The couple's police encounter ended with officers separating Petito and Laundrie without making an arrest, the report stated. The investigator said that although the officers "protected the victim" by separating Laundrie from the Youtuber, he did not find that they "enforced the law." Per the investigator, "They responded to a confirmed domestic violence incident and they had evidence showing an assault had taken place. The statements of all those involved, along with the evidence presented, provided probable cause for an arrest."
In the report, responding officer Eric Pratt reflected on the incident by saying, "We're all doing this with the fact in our mind that we know what happened later. So, it's really convoluted and hard to tell you like anything other than what I thought at the time which was if I missed a big red flag that he was a murderer, then yes I missed it."
He alleged, "If I would have known he was going to murder her, I would have taken vacation to follow them, because I care about people, to the point where he was going to murder her… I'm desperately f–ked over that she got killed. I really am. I would have done anything to stop it if I would have known that was coming."
The report recommended the Moab City Police Department make improvements to its policies and trainings, the city said. The statement noted that Moab plans to implement the recommendations, which included additional legal training and training in domestic violence investigations.
The investigator also recommended probation for both officers and "Overall Policy Review."
The city's statement added, "The City of Moab sends our sincere condolences to the Petito family. Our hearts go out to them as they continue to deal with the tragic loss of their daughter."
Police determined that Petito was killed three to four weeks before her body was found in September 2021. Her cause of death was strangulation.
Laundrie, who was a person of interest and not a suspect in Petito's death, was discovered dead in Florida in October 2021. His family attorney previously told E! News that his cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and that he died by suicide.
The Moab City Police Department had no further comment when contacted by E! News. E! News reached out to the Petito and Laundrie families for comment on the report but hasn't heard back.
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