Warning: This content may be disturbing for some viewers.
(NewsNation) — The attorneys representing Gabby Petito’s parents have released a photo from the slain woman’s cellphone that reportedly shows the injuries of domestic violence.
They say the selfie of Gabby Petito shows she was violently assaulted, and likely strangled, before her interaction with Moab Police. Gabby’s parents, Joe Petito and Nichole Schmidt, are suing the Moab Police Department for the way they handled the interaction.
The selfie was taken by Gabby in the back of her van in Moab, Utah, at 4:37 p.m. on Aug. 12, 2021, right before she called 911.
Utah authorities responded to reports of an alleged physical interaction between Petito and her boyfriend Brian Laundrie on Aug. 12. Hourlong body camera footage from the investigation shows officers responding to the 911 call with Petito crying “uncontrollably,” saying the pair had been having “little arguments” that day.
Authorities said Laundrie told officers the couple had been traveling for four to five months, which “created emotional strain between them and increased the number of arguments.”
According to attorneys with the Utah-based law firm of Parker & McConkie, “The officers ignored this critical evidence and did nothing to follow up on, or to further investigate, Gabby’s report that Brian had violently grabbed her face and cut her cheek.”
“The photo demonstrates the cut previously noted on her left cheek as well as blood smeared from her forehead, across her left eye and cheek and over her nose, indicating that she was grabbed over her face in such a way that her airways were likely obstructed. Gabby documented the injury and, during the stop, attempted to tell the Moab officers, however, the seriousness and significance (of) this type of assault and injury was completely ignored,” the statement from the attorneys on the Parker & McConkie website reads.
The Petito family is “heartbroken to see how Moab police officers failed to recognize the danger Gabby was in,” but they remain focused on advocating for Utah’s laws on domestic abuse.
“Our daughter, Gabby, died as a result of intimate partner violence that could have and should have been identified by law enforcement using the lethality assessment. We believe that if the lethality assessment had been properly used in her situation, together with the recommended support and resources, Gabby would still be alive today,” Schmidt said while in Utah to support passage of a law to require use of training and procedures for police to more effectively identify and assess these dangers.
The Utah Senate unanimously passed the domestic violence bill.