Homicide victim Gabby Petito is seen in a newly released bodycam video before she vanished telling a police officer that her fiancé, Brian Laundrie, “grabbed” her face and left a scratch during a confrontation earlier that day.
It’s the first time Petito has been shown on video accusing Laundrie of violence after witnesses called police on Aug. 12 to report that a “male was striking a female” near a van fitting the description of the vehicle the couple was driving on a cross-country trip they were documenting on social media.
Petito’s account of the confrontation was captured on a second police bodycam just released Thursday by Utah’s Moab Police Department. An earlier video from another officer’s bodycam shows Petito saying she first slapped Laundrie.
Petito, a 22-year-old lifestyle blogger, vanished last month during the “van life” road trip she and Laundrie, 23, had been writing about on Instagram since July 2. Her remains were discovered near Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming weeks later. Laundrie went missing in Florida days before Petito’s body was discovered, and he is still being sought by police.
After police pulled the couple over on a Utah highway on Aug. 12 following the witnesses’ call, the two were separated and questioned by the officers.
In the newly released video, Officer Eric Pratt tells a distraught and sobbing Petito that witnesses had reported seeing Laundrie hit or “punch you.” He asks if it’s true, and she responds: “I guess, yeah, but I hit him first,” adding that she “slapped him.”
Pratt, who notices marks on Petito’s face and left arm, presses her for details.
“Well, he kept telling me to shut up,” Petito responds. “He didn’t like, hit me in the face … like, punch me in the face or anything. … He, like, grabbed me with his [finger] nail, and I guess that’s why it looks … I definitely have a cut right here [points to cheek] because I can feel it. When I touch it, it burns.” She said he had also grabbed her arm when the officer asked about marks on her skin.
She later asked, sobbing: “Can’t we just have, like, a driving ticket?” She offered to pay any ticket instead of facing charges against either her or Laundrie.
Petito told the officers she had been struggling with her mental health and with Laundrie while living in the van’s close quarters.
When Laundrie was asked by one of the officers about the report from witnesses of a “man hitting a female,” Laundrie responds on the video: “I pushed her away. She gets really worked up. And when she does, she swings.”
Despite the fraught situation, “both the male and female reported they are in love and engaged to be married and desperately didn’t wish to see anyone charged with a crime,” Pratt noted in his report.
Pratt initially wrote in his account that “it was reported the male had been observed to have assaulted the female.” But he wrote later that “no one reported that the male struck the female.”
Pratt suggested to the couple that Laundrie stay alone at a nearby hotel room for the night to “reset” matters, while Petito stay in the van.
Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, last talked to her on Aug. 24. She received two text messages from her daughter’s phone in the days after speaking to her, but it was unclear whether they were actually sent by her daughter, ABC reported.
Laundrie returned home without Petito on Sept. 1 to North Port, Florida, where he lived with his parents and Petito. Police found the white van the couple had been driving at the home. Laundrie is considered a person of interest in Petito’s death.
The newly released video can be seen up top. Petito’s account of the confrontation is in the first 5 minutes.