New photo of Gabby Petito released as part of lawsuit against Moab police

Posted at 2:09 PM, February 7, 2023 and last updated 7:55 PM, May 11, 2023

By: Melanie Porter

MOAB, Utah (KSTU) — More than three months after the family of Gabby Petito filed a $50 million lawsuit against the Moab Police Department, lawyers released a photo of Gabby that they claim shows she was “violently assaulted.”


The lawsuit, officially filed in November, claims that if officers had been properly trained, Gabby Petito would still be alive.

In response to the lawsuit, the City of Moab stated that while the murder of Gabby was a “terrible tragedy,” officers were not responsible.

A newly released photo appears to show Gabby Petito documenting her injuries before talking to Moab Police. A selfie from Aug. 12, 2021, shows Petito with a scratch under her eye and blood smudged across her face. (Parker & McConkie)

Lawyers initially stated in the Complaint that Gabby “took a photograph of her injury, which shows blood across her nose and left eye.”

Previously, body camera footage was made available by police but the photo Gabby allegedly took on her phone was not made public.

Lawyers for the Petito family released the photo that they claim shows Gabby was “violently assaulted and was likely strangled and/or suffocated prior to her interaction with Moab Police.”

They say the photo was taken at 4:37 p.m. on August 12, which was on or before the time of the initial 911 call and subsequent police stop.

“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,” lawyers for the family state. “Gabby documented the injury and, during the stop, attempted to tell the Moab officers, however, the seriousness and significance this type of assault and injury was completely ignored.”

In response to the newly released photo, the City of Moab said they do not comment on situations with pending or active litigation.

FILE – In this image taken from police body camera video provided by The Moab Police Department, Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito talks to a police officer after police pulled over the van she was traveling in with her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, near the entrance to Arches National Park on Aug. 12, 2021. Gabby Petito’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that police failed to recognize their daughter was in a life-threatening situation last year when officers investigated a fight between her and her boyfriend. (The Moab Police Department via AP, File)

Petito and her boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, had a run-in with Moab police officers in August when a witness said they saw a man, identified as Laundrie, hitting a woman.

During the stop with police, officers determined that Petito was the aggressor and separated the couple for the night.

Lawyers say the newly revealed photo of Gabby shows she was not the “predominant aggressor” in the situation and she was instead assaulted by Laundrie.

Petito’s body was discovered on September 19 in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. An autopsy later revealed her cause of death to be strangulation. Before committing suicide after returning home to Florida, Laundrie claimed responsibility for her death.

An investigation in the months after Petito’s murder reported that officers made “several unintentional mistakes” in failing to cite Gabby Petito for domestic violence.

This story was originally published Feb. 7 by KSTU in Salt Lake City, an E.W. Scripps Company.