New emails discovered suggest that that the Moab, Utah, police chief may have purposely delayed releasing additional bodycam footage of the dispute between Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie.
On August 12, Moab officers Daniel Robbins and Eric Pratt responded to a call regarding a male and female in a physical altercation. The call was concerning Laundrie and Petito, who were in the middle of a cross-country trip in a white converted van.
Despite reports of a witness seeing Laundrie hitting Petito, the officers determined that the incident was due to mental health issues and separated the pair for the night. Bodycam footage released indicated that neither Petito nor Laundrie wanted to press charges, but both admitted that Petito was the aggressor.
CBS 2 reports that Robbins’ bodycam footage was released on September 16, but it took an additional two weeks for the authorities to release Pratt’s bodycam.
“It became obvious to me watching the news that information had been withheld from the media,” former Grand County attorney Happy Morgan, who requested the additional footage, said.
Morgan reportedly went to the city council last Tuesday to get answers.
“Two officers responded that day – Pratt and Robbins,” Morgan told the council. “Where’s Pratt’s camera? Every news agency in the United States has requested it and they have not been turned over.”
The following day, Moab Police Acting Chief Braydon Palmer received an email from Morgan, inquiring about the bodycam footage.
“This is a high priority for me and agree with your comments on that matter. This process should have occurred more timely,” Palmer reportedly said back to Morgan in an email.
Within a day, Pratt’s bodycam footage was released. Palmer previously told CBS 2 that there had been an unusual amount of requests for bodycam footage which set them behind. For Morgan, however, the explanation was shocking.
“I thought that that was inconsistent with the truth and inconsistent with the email,” Morgan told 2News. “And I’m concerned that if I hadn’t pushed the matter at city council and then again the next day, that that tape would still be withheld.”
“Sometimes it’s just best to say, ‘We made this mistake, we shouldn’t have done it, and we’re going to do better in the future. That gives you an opportunity to start fresh and do things correctly.”
Meanwhile, Moab Police office manager, Kelli Day, who is reportedly responsible for public records requests, is currently under investigation for allegedly redacting footage from a separate case in February, in which a police 0fficer reportedly used offensive language.
Day apparently came under investigation after Morgan filed a complaint on September 16 and accused her of hiding portions of the bodycam footage.
“Ms. Day’s redactions are not consistent with Utah law and are obviously designed to cover blatantly offensive police behavior,” Morgan wrote.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, 23-year-old Laundrie is wanted on a felony warrant following the death of his girlfriend, 22-year-old Petito. Laundrie and Petito embarked on their cross-country trip in July, but by September 1, Laundrie returned to his parents’ North Port, Florida, home with Petito’s van, sans Petito.
Last month, authorities found Gabby’s deceased body in a remote area at the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. Officials confirmed that the manner of death was a homicide but the cause of death is still pending.
Authorities issued the federal warrant for Laundrie for allegedly using a Capitol One Bank debit card without permission after Gabby passed away. Laundrie is said to have used the card between August 30 and September 1, “knowingly and with intent to defraud.”
Laundrie’s parents have insisted they have no clue where he is. They claimed he left their residence with a backpack on and headed to the Carlton Reserve on September 14. They reported him missing three days later.
Prior to Chapman’s $10,000 donation, the reward fund for Laundrie’s capture had reached $170,000. Still, despite numerous tips and possible sightings, Laundrie remains elusive.
Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: Moab PD]