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Lead Police Officer Who Responded to Gabby Petito’s 911 Call is Charged With Domestic Abuse

A former police chief who left his position and later played a significant part as a patrol officer in the 2021 traffic stop of Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie is accused of making death threats to a Utah lady. The woman, who requested that her name not be made public out of concern for her safety, told Fox News Digital that “he has no business being an f—-ing cop.”

She was referring to one of the two Moab police officers, Eric Pratt, who engaged with Petito and Laundrie at the Arches National Park entrance just two weeks before she was strangled to death in Wyoming. She claims he threatened to crush her with a crowbar after she threatened to reveal sensual aspects of their 2017 encounter in public.

Nichole Schmidt, Petito’s mother, told Fox News on Wednesday, “If the cop responding to Gabby’s situation is an abuser himself who would threaten a girlfriend’s life, it makes sense why he believed Gabby’s abuser and overlooked her injuries.” “Gabby had no chance with him in command,” the speaker said.

An independent investigation into how the Petito-Laundrie call was handled, which led to no arrests or citations despite a Utah law requiring those actions following domestic violence incidents, faulted the officers for their “unintentional mistakes” after they believed Petito, not Laundrie, to be the aggressor.

The Utah woman claimed that after finding that Pratt had been elevated to the rank of detective and appointed a school resource officer in Moab, she contacted the parents of Petito. In 2017, he reportedly announced his resignation as the police chief of Salina in a letter. She claims that after confronting the mayor about his alleged maltreatment of her, action was taken.

The couple was captured on camera by a police bodycam in Moab, Utah, on August 12, 2021, after a domestic violence complaint. The woman said that Pratt was still married to the ex-wife he mentioned on the bodycam video during a conversation with Laundrie in 2017 while she was going through a divorce.

The two had been friends for a long time before starting a sexual relationship, which later developed into an “emotional friendship,” according to her. She claimed that at one point, her conscience forced her to come clean about her relationship and other purported trysts with Pratt.

She claimed that after a heated argument, she urged the mayor to tell the other man to leave her alone or she would reveal the affair’s details to the public. She claimed, “I had previously spoken to the mayor, [and] he was getting ready to resign.”

They hadn’t spoken in approximately two weeks, and she ran into him while shopping at Walmart with her daughter. In the bodycam video released by the police, Moab Police Officer Eric Pratt can be heard speaking to Brian Laundrie on August 12, 2021.

She claimed that he followed her out of the parking lot and into a Richfield gas station while flashing the lights of his personal car. He walked to the back seat and began conversing with my daughter, telling her that although adults don’t always agree, they should all eventually get along.

He entered after that and gave the girl some candy. The woman claimed that “he came around to my window and threatened me that if anything ever got out he would kill me with a crowbar.” She alleged that he requested her to meet him at Denny’s restaurant around a year later. She did, and after a lengthy conversation, she departed feeling “peace of mind.”

She claimed that she no longer need to do anything similar to always looking over her shoulder. Attorneys for Gabby Petito’s family claim that fresh photographic evidence demonstrates the injuries Gabby had before calling 911 in Moab.

But, she claimed, he allegedly stated something else troubling as well: “Had this been the day before, a grave would’ve been dug and you would’ve been in it.” She stated that when she questioned him about what made him decide not to murder her, he replied that he had come to the conclusion that it wasn’t she who had ruined his life, but rather another woman with whom he had an affair.

A request for comment was not answered by the stand-in Pratt. Eric Pratt, a Moab Police officer, is spotted using his phone on Saturday, October 29, 2022, in Moab, Utah. During his tenure as chief in Salina, the Utah Department of Public Safety informed Fox News Digital that it was unaware of any ethical, legal, or other complaints made against him.

He is mentioned in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Petito’s parents against the Moab Police Department. Bret Edge, a former Moab police chief, Braydon Palmer, a former assistant chief, and Officer Daniel Robbins, the stop’s initiator, are all mentioned.

On the ongoing legal dispute, the city has refrained from commenting. After a witness claimed to have seen Laundrie beat Petito, take her phone, and attempt to drive away without her outside an organic store in the middle of town, the Petito family lawsuit claims that Pratt and Robbins failed to handle the call appropriately.

How far do you want to go this, Pratt is heard asking responding officer Daniel Robbins in the bodycam video. “You are aware of the purpose of the domestic violence code. It exists to safeguard people, “Pratt went on. “The reason they don’t give us discretion on these things is that too often women at risk want to go back to their abuser, they just wanted him to stop, they didn’t want to have to be separated from him, they didn’t want him to be charged, they didn’t want him to go to jail, and then they end up getting worse and worse treatment and end up getting killed,” says the woman.

The former fling was also drawn to this comment in the bodycam film. She remarked that it made her think of a section of the 2019 podcast interview where he discussed looking for “loopholes” to avoid charging individuals during stops. The family of Petito submitted a notice of claim for Petito’s wrongful death in August, and they anticipate making a statement about the case on Thursday morning.

According to Petito’s lawyer Brian C. Stewart of the firm Parker & McConkie, “the allegations made against Officer Pratt, that he harassed and threatened to kill a former girlfriend, are deeply troubling but may explain why he handled the investigation in such a biassed manner and failed to protect Gabby.” These accusations and Pratt’s previous wrongdoing “should have made him ineligible for employment with the Moab City Police Department.”

Following an incident in 2019, Pratt also left the Moab Police Department for a while, as Fox News Digital reported last week. While having an affair with his wife, he participated in the arrest of a romantic rival for domestic violence, according to court records. Later, the case was dismissed, and the record was sealed.

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