Eric Pratt, Officer Who Stopped Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie, Haunted by Her Death

The Utah police officer who handled the traffic stop of Brian Laundrie and Gabby Petito says he has been left traumatized by the latter's death.

Eric Pratt, who was one of the Moab officers shown in body-cam footage taken as the couple were questioned on August 12, told an investigation that he was "desperately f***ed over that she got killed."

"I really am. I would have done anything to stop it if I would have known that was coming," he said.

"I accept responsibility for it but I don't want anyone to think that I did not care," Pratt said according to the report. "I am devastated about it. I cared that day and I still care."

His testimony is part of a 100-page independent review detailing the Moab City Police Department's handling of the dispute between Laundrie, 23, and his fiancee, Petito, 22, in Utah, weeks before she was found dead in Wyoming.

It was sparked by a formal complaint to police and criticism of how the officers handled the traffic stop outside the entrance to Arches National Park following an alert about the couple from a concerned onlooker.

After questioning the pair over a suspected domestic violence incident, officers let them go on the condition they spent the night apart and arranged for a hotel room.

Petito was last seen on August 24, and her body was found in a remote location in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park on September 19.

A coroner ruled that Petito died by strangulation. Laundrie disappeared days after Petito was reported missing, and was found dead from suicide in a Florida nature reserve on October 20.

The report by Price City Police Department Captain Brandon Ratcliffe released Wednesday said the officers had probable cause to arrest Petito after she said she had hit Laundrie first during a dispute.

However, the report concluded that "it's very likely Gabby was a long-term victim of domestic violence, whether that be physically, mentally, and/or emotionally."

It said that the officers had "made several unintentional mistakes that stemmed from the fact that officers failed to cite Ms. Petito for domestic violence."

The report also said it was "an impossible question to answer" whether Petito would have been alive if the officers had responded differently and that the blame for her death lay with "the person or persons directly responsible."

In recommending measures, including the officers being placed on probation and additional training for domestic violence incidents, Ratcliffe said the officers "did not know what they were doing was wrong at the time."

"If this case was handled flawlessly, would it have changed anything? Nobody knows."

In its response on the report's cover, the Moab City Police Department said that based on the findings, "the City of Moab believes our officers showed kindness, respect and empathy in their handling of this incident."

Newsweek has contacted the Moab City Police Department for comment.

Gabby Petito
This police camera video provided by The Moab Police Department shows Brian Laundrie talking to a police officer after police pulled over the van he was traveling in with his girlfriend, Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito, near the entrance to Arches National Park in Utah on August 12, 2021. The couple was pulled over while they were having an emotional fight. Petito's remains were discovered in Wyoming on September 19. The Moab Police Department via AP