Around 14 months after the body of Gabby Petito, who was missing in the USA, was found, the parents sued the police in the state of Utah for 50 million dollars - around 51 million euros. They accuse the officials of negligence in the case, as the family's attorneys in Salt Lake City said.
"Gabby would be alive today" if the police had followed the rules of the day when dealing with victims of domestic violence, said lawyer James W. McConkie.
He was referring to an incident in mid-August 2021 when the Utah police were called to the vehicle of the 22-year-old and her 23-year-old boyfriend over a possible case of domestic violence. The couple traveled around the United States in the car at the time.
On September 1st, Petito's friend returned alone
Devastated and crying, Petito said in video captured by the police body camera that she had OCD and that an altercation broke out. She slapped her boyfriend, who grabbed her face violently. The couple then agreed to spend the following night separately.
According to the coroner, he died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot. The FBI later said the young man had written a notebook claiming responsibility for Petito's death before committing suicide.
Parents: Friend was incorrectly identified as a victim
The lawsuit states that officers at the time misidentified Petito's boyfriend and not the 22-year-old herself as the victim, thereby failing to adequately protect her. "We feel we have to ensure justice because she could have been protected that day," Petito's mother said. They want to prevent something like this from happening again.
Moab police have denied the allegations. Petito's death was a terrible tragedy. "No one could have foreseen the August 12 tragedy that would unfold weeks later and hundreds of miles away," the city said in a statement, quoted by several US media outlets. The city will vigorously defend itself against the lawsuit.
The case received a lot of attention in the United States and internationally - not least because the couple had shared numerous pictures and videos from their trip on social networks.