SALT LAKE CITY — With a Moab police officer explaining the law required him to make an arrest or citation in domestic violence cases, Gabby Petito cried.
“I don’t want to be separated,” she said through tears.
“You going to have anxiety?” the officer asked.
“Yeah. No. We’re a team, please.”
The exchange is captured in new body camera footage released Thursday by Moab police. Video released earlier this month was only from one officer.
The second video from a second officer at the scene on Aug. 12 spends more time with Petito. It also captures the debate officers had. They weighed whether to arrest or cite the person they judged to be the aggressor – Petito.
Petito’s body was discovered Sept. 19 in Wyoming in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Laundrie is missing and has been called a person of interest in Petito’s death. A federal grand jury has indicted him on a charge accusing him of using Petito’s bank card without authorization.
The new video starts with an officer arriving at the scene at the entrance to Arches National Park. Then he walks to the driver’s window of a Ford van and talks to Laundrie.
“Hey, we got a call about a male hitting a female,” the officer says, “and the two of them and getting in this vehicle taking off.”
“Sorry… I, I, I, I don’t have time to defend myself by sitting here,” an agitated Laundrie says. “But I pushed her away. She gets really worked up, and when she does she swings and she had her cell phone in her hand. So, I was just trying to push her away.”
A few minutes later, the officer questioned Petito about some scratches or bruises on her face and arms.
“So there’s two people that saw him hit you,” he sayd.
“Well, to be honest, I definitely hit him first,” Petito replied.
The officer went into his patrol car and called one of the witnesses who reported the domestic assault.
“You did see her slapping him though it sounds like,” the officer said.
“Yes.. but it was like, yeah,” the witness replied.
Utah law says police “shall” arrest or cite the aggressor when they have probable cause to believe domestic violence occurred. After Petito’s protest, the officer went back to his patrol car and called his supervisor.
“But is there a way to not do anything on this?” the officer asked the supervisor. “I mean it’s so minor. It’s hard to say, right?
“I’m going to go reread the statute.”
The video doesn’t capture what the supervisor said, but he appears to have left the decision with the officers.
“In no way shape or form,” the officer told his colleague, “that I can perceive does what happened here, a little slap fight between fiancés who love each other and want to be together, can I perceive that this is going to digress into a situation where he’s going to be a battered man, but then again I don’t have a crystal ball.”
A few minutes later, the officer added: “Society and the judges and everyone can judge me for this. I am looking at a 110-pound female and her fiancé who have no means to be separated. He doesn’t want to pursue it. She’s not a threat to him.”
Moab’s police chief last week said another agency would review his officers’ actions.