New information has shed light on the Gabby Petito case as the nationwide search for the missing Long Island woman intensifies. According to police, officers responded to reports of a violent altercation between Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie. Authorities released bodycam footage of the police response following the fight.
In the video, released on YouTube by NBC2 News, a Utah police officer pulled over the couple. The incident followed a previous police response on Aug. 12 at around 4:30 p.m. near the Moonflower Community Cooperative in Moab. The bodycam footage showed the second response, as Police Officer Daniel Scott Robbins approached Petito’s 2012 Ford Transit van.
The officer separated Gabby Petito and her boyfriend, taking individual statements from each. The missing Long Island woman was uncontrollably crying during the incident. She explained to the officer that she and Brian Laundrie had gotten into a fight while traveling together. At one point, Petito said that she was a nutritionist prior to leaving for the cross-country road trip. She quit her previous job to build a travel blog which she claimed Laundrie was not supportive of.
She told the officer that “I don’t know, we’ve just been fighting all morning,” claiming that Laundrie “wouldn’t let me in the car before” because “he told me I needed to calm down.” Petito explained that she was “totally calm” and was “calm all the time.”
After speaking with Gabby Petito, the officer then took Brian Laundrie’s statement. Once police took comprehensive reports, the couple was released. Petito was instructed to take the van for the night and Laundrie was escorted to an area hotel. “I want you guys to stay away from each other,” the officer told Petito, who was still crying in a police cruiser.
At the end of the bodycam video, both Petito and Laundrie seemed in a “calmer” place. It was not clear what happened after they were told to separate. It wasn’t reported when or if they began traveling together again.
Despite reports of a violent altercation between the couple, the officers determined that domestic violence charges were not warranted. However, police considered charges against Gabby Petito because she had admitted to scratching Laundrie during the fight. But police eventually decided that it was not a criminal case “as much as that of a mental health crisis.” The solution: force the pair to spend the night apart.
According to both Petito and Laundrie, there had been a strain on their relationship for quite some time. As they continued to travel together across the country, both had gotten stressed and there was tension in their relationship. It wasn’t immediately clear if the two split at some point after the altercation. There was also reportedly a history of mental health disorder in both Petito and Laundrie, though the exact disorder was not revealed.
It was revealed in the police report that the couple got into a fight near a local convenience store “over a phone.” Petito tried to slap Laundrie, who then locked her out of the van.
“Brian said Gabrielle, thinking he was going to leave her in Moab without a ride, went to slap him,” it said in the police report. “As Gabrielle started to swing, Brian pushed her away to avoided the slap. As a result Gabrielle, off-balance, still caught Brian’s face with some fingers causing minor visible scratches.”
Neither wanted to press charges, authorities confirmed. “Then [officers] determined the most appropriate course of action would be to help separate the parties for the night so they could reset their mental states without interference from one another.”
The officer wrote in the report that Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie loved each other. There were no major observable injuries. Police determined that it was not a case of domestic assault but rather a mental break.
It was not clear what happened to the couple or whether they decided to break up after the incident. A statement from the Petito’s family’s lawyer explained that “Gabby’s family was instructed by law enforcement to not discuss the details of Gabby and Brian’s relationship.” There was no further comment made.
Brian Laundrie was previously named a person of interest in Gabby Petito’s disappearance. Police said that he has not “made himself available to be interviewed by investigators,” and he has refused to help the search in any way. Despite naming Laundrie a person of interest, police have also begun following alternative leads.
Investigators are following a link between a double murder that occurred last month and Petito’s case.
“We’re looking at everything, I mean, anything and everything that was suspicious around that time, or we’re not ruling anything out at this time,” a police spokesman said. They added that “we’re just investigating the information as it comes in.”