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Gabby Petito's family files $50 million wrongful death suit against Utah police

Gabby Petito's family sues Utah police for $50 million
Gabby Petito's family sues Utah police for $50 million 02:31

NEW YORK - One year ago, a domestic dispute captured on police bodycam video would end up thrusting the disappearance of Gabby Petito into the national spotlight. 

We all know that ended tragically, and Monday her family took the first steps in filing a lawsuit, faulting the police who pulled her and her fiancé over. 

As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reports, the suit alleges better training would have saved her life. 

The world watched the anguish of Long Island native Gabby Petito as police in Moab, Utah stopped her and fiancé Brian Laundrie weeks before she went missing. Well-meaning officers appeared to follow protocol after a 911 caller reported seeing Laundrie hit Petito. They sent Laundrie to a shelter, and Petito on her way. 

Now, her grieving parents announced a $50 million lawsuit claiming Petito would still be alive had officers been properly trained. 

Gabby Petito's family files wrongful death lawsuit against Moab Police 15:32

"The officers failed to recognize the serious danger she was in and failed a to investigate fully - and really they did not have the training they needed to recognize the clear signs that were evident that morning," said Petito family attorney Brian Stewart. 

They concluded she was struggling with mental health, not that she was a victim in need of immediate help. 

"This is just bringing back a lot of pain," said Petito's mother Nichole Schmidt. 

The suit alleges police weren't trained to recognize obvious indicators of abuse. 

"They did not understand the law, and did not apply the law properly in Gabby's situation," Stewart said. 

"This lawsuit is only one part of a broader effort to raise awareness intimate partner violence," said attorney James McConkie. 

They hope accountability will save lives. 

"Just reach out... you're better than that. You can get out," Schmidt said. 

"Her legacy is top help people who don't see a way out," Gabby's father Joseph Petito said. 

An outside investigation faulted the officers for unintentional mistakes: Not documenting Petito's injuries, or providing her with domestic violence resources. Probation was recommended, and additional training. which the city agreed to. 

Two weeks after the stop, her disappearance set off a nationwide manhunt. Laundrie was later found dead by suicide, a confession nearby. 

Moab police wouldn't comment on pending litigation, but have said the officers acted with kindness, respect and empathy. 

Last week, the Gabby Petito Foundation donated $100,000 to the National Domestic Violence Hotline

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