The parents of Gabby Petito, the “van-life” traveler who was killed by her fiancé and found a remote campground in the Grand Teton National forest, is suing Utah’s Moab City Police Department for negligence resulting in the 22-year-old’s death last year. They are seeking $50 million in damages, according to FOX11.
The lawsuit names the department, three of its officers—”Palmer,” “Pratt” and Daniel Robbins—and 10 other unnamed defendants. They are accused of “negligent failure” in the investigation into an alleged domestic assault between Petito and her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, weeks before her murder.
The suit contends that Petito’s death was “caused by their wrongful acts or neglect.”
In a press conference from Salt Lake City, Petito’s formally announced the wrongful-death lawsuit Monday.
“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,” said attorney James McConkie. “Failure to follow the law can have deadly consequences, as it did in this case.”
The incident in question—with Petito and Laundrie being questioned separately by police on the side of a road—has been widely viewed online as part of released body cam footage. In the footage, Gabby is crying, confused, and has a cut on her face. When asked about her fight with Laundrie, Petito tried to take the blame, and the officers do not question her further.
“He [Laundrie] wouldn’t let me in the car earlier,” Petito told the officers through tears at one point in their dialogue. “He told me I needed to calm down. He really stresses me out.”
On September 19, 2001, Petito’s body was found near a remote campground in Grand Teton National Forest. Laundrie went on the lam and was found dead three weeks later in Florida. A notebook on the premises held his confession to killing his fiancée.
The local government now has 60 days to respond to the suit.
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign for our newsletters today