The search to exact justice for Gabby Petito and give her family answers and closure continues.
An arrest warrant was issued for Brian Laundrie, and more details are emerging about the final hours and days before Gabby’s murder.
New information about the police stop just two weeks before Gabby’s murder paints a clearer picture of how officers totally failed.
The 911 dispatcher told them that Brian was seen hitting Gabby repeatedly, but they chose to bond with him and paint her as the “crazy girlfriend” anyway.
For weeks, there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the Gabby Petito case and the 911 call.
On August 12, eyewitnesses saw a domestic violence incident at the Moonflower Community Cooperative.
A man was seen “slapping” and “hitting” a woman outside. That man was identified as Brian Laundrie. The woman was Gabby Petito.
One can only imagine how many abuse incidents happened in private before the abuser is bold enough to do it out in the open.
Witnesses saw and called 911 to report the domestic battery that they were witnessing, describing the couple and their vehicle.
They feared that things might grow even worse. They were right.
For a couple of weeks, there were a lot of questions about the 911 operator and dispatcher. Did they drop the ball?
After all, the police report had indicated that Gabby was the aggressor and Brian was the “victim” in the altercation.
Gabby was generally painted by the officers who pulled them over as unstable and hysterical. Officers have been perceived as having “bonded” with Brian.
As it turns out, the fault there does not lie with the 911 operator or dispatcher.
Fox 13 Utah obtained police audio in which the dispatcher clearly told officers what was going on.
The caller had described “a male hit a female, domestic,” the dispatcher told police before describing the vehicle.
Somehow, officers started with that but, upon seeing alleged scratches on Brian’s face, considered charges against Gabby.
It seems that the only person looking out for Gabby that day was the park ranger — a woman — who sat with her and adviced her to reconsider a clearly toxic relationship.
Meanwhile, the officers called in to protect Gabby did everything but. They separated the two for the night and sent them on their way.
About two weeks later, Gabby was murdered, possibly just hours after yet another public display of aggression by Brian.
The Moab City Police Department is now under investigation for mishandling this.
In addition to a catastrophic failure, this appears to have been a “breach of police department policy.”
Utah state law requires that police either make an arrest or issue a citation in cases like this.
This applies any time that they have “probably cause to believe that an act of domestic violence has been committed.”
While the primary fault for Gabby’s murder lies with her murderer, it’s clear that the police neither “protected” nor “served” Gabby that night.
There’s a lot to be said about laws like Utah’s, which are not uncommon. It’s not always a good policy.
For one thing, if police are required to arrest “someone,” they may end up arresting the victim.
Who gets arrested is often a snap judgmental call and might be impacted by biases and assumptions held by police.
Arresting a victim and giving them a criminal record is not going to keep them safe and could help an abuser further isolate them from friends and family.
While some abusers are “uncontrolled” rage machines, most target their anger and are suddenly calm and well behaved around police.
A sobbing woman distressed and humiliated by the man who claims to love her will often look “hysterical” to the untrained eye.
Unfortunately, this case is a grim reminder that, according to some studies, 40% of police officers are reported for abusing their families.
Keep in mind that domestic violence is one of the most underreported crimes on the planet. The true number would surely be higher.
As a society, we have a lot of choices to make about law enforcement. We clearly need to reframe who is entrusted to protect whom.
Additional reports on the manhunt for Brian Laundrie shed light on his plans before he vanished.
As the case was heating up against him, Brian slipped away after refusing to cooperate with those looking for Gabby.
We now know that Brian left both his wallet and cell phone behind when he left his parents’ home earlier this month.
Authorities have been looking for Brian in the Carlton Reserve.
This is a roughly 25,000 acre nature preserve in southwestern Florida.
It is near his parents’ home in North Port. This is only one of the many avenues being explored.
Additionally, a new person has come forward to share her experience of picking up Brian when he was a hitchhiker.
Norma Jean Jalovec, which sure is a name to have, spoke to Fox News.
Based upon the timeline, it looks like she picked him up just minutes after he exited the vehicle of TikToker Miranda Baker.
At around 6:15 in the early evening, Norma spotted a hitchhiker matching Brian’s description.
She was driving past the dam near Pacific Creek Landing at the time and chose to pick him up.
She agreed to drop him off at the Spread Creek dispersed camping area.
In turn, the man mentioned having a fiancee.
Norma offered to drive him up to the campsite, but he asked to be dropped off on the road outside of it.
Apparently when she joked about him trying to impress that fiancee, he insisted that she let him out, and even tried to “get out” while the car was in motion.
We are all striving for meaning when stories like this are everywhere.
We should look out for each other. We should remember that sometimes the wrong people are trusted to protect us.
And we should all ask where this kind of energy and attention, which Gabby’s murder absolutely deserves, is when BIPOC women and men go missing each year.
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