MOAB, Utah — The parents of Gabby Petito filed a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit against the Moab City Police Department on Thursday alleging its officers were negligent in their interactions with the 22-year-old and her fiancé two weeks before her death last summer.
“The purpose of this lawsuit is to honor Gabby’s legacy by demanding accountability and working toward systemic changes to protect victims of domestic abuse and violence and prevent such tragedies in the future,” attorney James W. McConkie said in a statement.
The lawsuit accuses the department and its officers of failing to follow the law and failing to protect Petito during an investigation into a domestic disturbance in August — just weeks before Brian Laundrie killed her. The lawsuit states that officers improperly determined Petito was the primary aggressor in the interaction and misapplied Utah’s laws related to domestic abuse. It also accuses the police department of failing to properly train its officers in these issues.
In a news conference Thursday, her parents said they filed the suit to ensure that police make these changes to help other abuse victims.
“The dark and heartbreaking reality of domestic violence is that it is often imperceptible to the outside world. While courts and legislators seek to put safeguards in place to protect victims of abuse, it is almost impossible to preempt domestic violence. Additional training may help officers recognize signs of domestic violence, but the time and resources might be better spent in aiding and funding victim advocates groups so that victims know they have outlets to seek help.”
Scott Ghormley, family law attorney at Rose Law Group