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Gabby Petitos family files claim alleging police failed her

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I needed to jump through the screen and rescue her.

In this image extracted from police body camera video supplied by The Moab Police Department, Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito foretells a officer after police stopped the van she was traveling in with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, close to the entrance to Arches National Park on Aug. 12, 2021. The Moab Police Department via AP, File

By BRADY McCOMBS and SAM METZ, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Gabby Petitos family on Monday notified Utah officials of plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that police didn’t recognize their daughter was in a life-threatening situation this past year when officers investigated a fight between her and her boyfriend. The fight happened weeks before authorities say the boyfriend killed her as the couple was on a cross-country van trip.

The notice of claim contends police in the tourist town of Moab missed signs that Petito was the victim of domestic violence as a result of Brian Laundrie on Aug. 12, 2021. The officers ultimately allowed the couple to leave after requiring them to invest a night apart.

Police body cam video widely considered the investigation unfolded this past year showed Petito, 22, visibly and raised questions about whether another police response may have prevented her death. Appearing by video at a news conference to announce the claim, Petitos mother, Nicole Schmidt, said watching it is extremely painful.

I needed to jump through the screen and rescue her, Schmidt said.

Notices of claims are needed before people can sue government entities and the familys claim said that the lawsuit will seek $50 million in damages. Moab officials have 60 days to respond prior to the family can file case in line with the claim.

The familys lawyer, James McConkie, told reporters in Salt Lake City that the officers neglect to recognize the serious danger that she was in, and didn’t investigate fully and properly.

He added: They didn’t have working out that they had a need to recognize the clear signs which were evident that morning, that Gabby was a victim and that she was in serious need of immediate help.

Public workers such as for example police officers routinely have immunity from lawsuits in lots of states, including Utah. Debate over that legal doctrine, referred to as qualified immunity, emerged afgter police shootings in 2020 and contains reached both Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Petito familys attorneys said they planned to argue that applying Utahs governmental immunity law to wrongful death claims is unconstitutional and a roadblock to accountability.

The only real effective solution to correct these problems would be to hold our institutions in charge of failures, including police, said another Petito family attorney, Brian Stewart.

Moab officials didn’t immediately react to phone and electronic mails Monday seeking comment concerning the claim.

Petito was reported missing per month from then on traffic stop, and her strangled body was discovered on Sept. 19 on the edge of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Laundrie, 23, later killed himself in Florida after being named the only real person of fascination with her death. Petito and Landrie were originally from Long Island, NY.

The seek out Petito drew worldwide attention, spurring amateur sleuths to scour social media marketing for clues. In addition, it brought scrutiny of authorities and the news headlines media, both which have already been criticized for focusing more attention on missing white women than on women of color.

Earlier this season, an unbiased investigation discovered that police in Moab made several unintentional mistakes if they found Petito and Laundrie. In the report, police said it had been more than likely that Petito was a long-term victim of domestic violence, whether that be physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.

Laundrie killed himself in a Florida swamp, abandoning a notebook that authorities said contained a confession.

Along with filing the notice of claim, Schmidt announced a $100,000 donation from the Gabby Petito Foundation to partner with the National Domestic Violence Hotline to greatly help others survive turbulent and violent relationships.

Schmidt told The Associated Press within an interview the other day that she still has many unanswered questions in what went wrong.

Looking back, I didnt really see any signs. I believe the only two different people which will ever know very well what happened for the reason that relationship was Gabby and Brian. And we are able to guess and we are able to make assumptions but we dont really know very well what happened, she added. Probably the scenario ended this way because something was happening for some time.

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