New police body camera footage captured a visibly distraught Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito and her fiance after an alleged physical altercation between them on a cross-country trip to Utah.
The video, released Thursday by the Moab City Police Department, was dated August 12 – less than a month before the New York woman’s family reported her missing.
It showed an officer talking to Brian Laundrie and an emotional Petito after authorities stopped their white van near a town grocery store, about 140 miles southeast of Provo.
The footage captured the officer separating the couple as they individually described the incident that triggered the reporting of a potential domestic incident. Petito could be seen wiping away her tears as she told the responding officer that she had mental health issues.
“I’m sorry,” Petito said after the officer asked him why she was crying. “We just fought this morning. Some personal problems. “
Laundrie added: “It was a long day. We were camping yesterday. “
In the nearly hour-long video, the couple admitted to having argued all morning. When the officer asked Laundrie about the scratches on her face, he replied, “She had her phone and was trying to get the keys back from me. I said, “Let’s step back and breathe,” and she got me on her phone. ”
Petito’s family say they lost contact with her at the end of August and reported her disappearance on Saturday. Laundrie is now a person of interest in the investigation into his disappearance, police said.
Through his lawyer, Laundrie’s family declined to comment on the latest developments in the case. Petito’s family did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday. Richard Stafford, attorney for the Petito family, told NBC News Wednesday that “the Petito and Schmidt family have been ordered by law enforcement not to discuss the details of Gabby and Brian’s relationship.”
In a police report released on Wednesday, a responding officer wrote that Petito slapped Laundrie in the face after an argument, but the two told the officer that they didn’t want to press charges and that they loved each other. The officer spoke to Petito, Laundrie and a witness whose name was partially redacted in the report.
“The three people told me a similar and consistent story, consisting of the basic idea that the driver of the van, a man, had an argument with the woman, Gabbie,” the report said.
“The man tried to create distance by telling Gabbie to take a walk to calm herself down, she didn’t want to be separated from the man and started slapping him. He grabbed her face and pushed her away as she leaned on him and van. “
The incident appeared to be more of a mental and emotional “break” than a domestic incident, police said.
“No one reported that the man hit the woman, the man and the woman said they were in love and engaged and must be married and they did not desperately want to see anyone accused of a crime, ”according to the report. no significant injuries have been reported and the two have agreed that Gabbie suffers from severe anxiety. “
Petito said she punched Laundrie on the arm to get his attention as the officer tried to stop them, causing the van to swerve into the sidewalk, according to the report. But Laundrie said he thought Petito was trying to grab the steering wheel while he was driving, which resulted in the swerve. The officer said Laundrie’s account “was not in line with Gabrielle’s statement” and said he saw scratches on Laundrie’s arm.
The couple had spent the past four or five months traveling together, which “created emotional tension between them and increased the number of arguments,” according to the report.
The couple agreed to go their separate ways instead of police filing a complaint against Petito for domestic assault, according to the report. The officer said he had to make sure Laundrie was not a victim of ‘beat up boyfriend syndrome’.
Petito received the van and Laundrie was taken to a hotel, police said. The couple separated overnight and no charges were filed.
The revelation that Utah police met Petito, of Blue Point, Long Island, before she went missing, comes as authorities continue to search for her and determine her whereabouts. Petito was last known in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming in late August when she stopped communicating with her family.
The couple had documented their trips in the 2012 van on YouTube under the nicknames Nomadic Statik and Van Life. That pickup truck, with Florida license plates, and the laundry eventually returned to the town of North Port, south of Tampa, but without the woman, police said.
Police said Laundrie “did not make himself available for questioning by investigators” and “did not provide any useful details.” He has been designated a Person of Interest by North Port Police. The FBI is participating in the investigation.
Police Chief Todd Garrison did not provide any new details on the case at a press conference Thursday afternoon, but said authorities were continuing their research.
“We implore anyone, including Brian, to share with us information about his whereabouts over the past few weeks,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “Brian’s lack of information is hampering this investigation. The answers will eventually come out. We’ll help find Gabby, and we’ll help find anyone who may be involved in her disappearance. “