Police Are Not Equipped to Respond to Domestic Violence Issues

Gabby Petito’s case demonstrates why law enforcement officers are not always the best first responders.

Eunice Brownlee


Screenshot of Gabby Petito sitting in the back of a police cruiser from the bodycam footage released by Moab City Police (YouTube)

I watched the entire hour and seventeen minutes of bodycam footage from the Moab City Police stop of Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie on August 12th.

As a survivor of domestic abuse, it was incredibly triggering, but I persisted. After watching the video in its entirety, I was able to draw one simple conclusion: Our law enforcement officers are not trained well enough in domestic and intimate partner violence and it is costing victims their lives.

The stop seems straightforward enough. The officer was responding to a call from a witness who saw the pair arguing. In addition, Laundrie, the driver, was both speeding and ran up on a curb, prompting the stop. At face value, it probably seems like a couple arguing, and Petito is the first to admit that they are having a rough day.

Petito is hysterical when she gets out of the car, and she does not calm down much for the entirety of the stop. Laundrie, on the other hand, remains calm and collected and is quick to blame her for the situation, taking no responsibility for his own role in the matter.

Multiple officers, three of whom were male, responded to the scene. After separating the two, the main responding officer spends most of his time with Laundrie, who has a nervous energy but remains chill, even apologetic for the “inconvenience” of the police being required to do their jobs. The officers can clearly see that there’s an issue, and as they are gathering facts, they come to a conclusion.

Unfortunately, their first conclusion was the wrong one.

As both parties give their statements, there is agreement that Gabby was the one who was physically violent toward Brian. He has marks on his face, neck, and arms to corroborate both accounts of the incident. However, the key detail is the way that Brian minimizes the trigger for her behavior. He claims that this outburst was because she was upset that he had dirty feet getting into the van.

Using the reasonable person test, which is a standard in a court of law, no reasonable person…