Eric Pratt: Traffic cop who botched Gabby Petito traffic stop has been PROMOTED to detective
Former police Chief Bret Edge, who was also involved, has since quit the Moab Police Department
MOAB, UTAH: September will mark one year since 22-year-old YouTuber Gabby Petito was reported missing and later found murdered following a cross-country trip with her killer fiancé, Brain Laundrie. One of the two officers who stopped Petito and Laundrie during a traffic stop, a month before Petito’s murder, has been promoted within the Moab Police and made a detective in Utah, Radar reported.
Petito was pulled over by police in the small town of Moab, weeks before she was discovered, after a witness reported seeing Laundrie allegedly slap Petito during an argument on August 12, 2021. In body-cam footage released of the incident, officers Eric Pratt and Daniel Robbins, the two Moab cops who responded to the report, ultimately found Petito to be the "aggressor" in the situation after she admitted to starting the fight and hitting him. They separated the couple before allowing them to continue their cross-country road trip together the next morning. Petito was reported missing by her parents on September 11 after she failed to return from the trip with Laundrie. The vlogger was ultimately found dead a week later. Her cause of death was homicide by strangulation.
An independent investigation into how the police handled the couple's dispute found the officers made "several unintentional mistakes" during the traffic stop. They allegedly misclassified it as more of a mental health break after being confronted with a sobbing Petito who suffered from anxiety and failed to document any injuries she suffered. The investigative report also found that a statement was never obtained from the original 911 caller who claimed Laundrie hit her, with Pratt writing in his report, "No one reported that the male struck the female."
POLICE VIDEO: MISSING BLUE POINT WOMAN- Police in #Moab, Utah release body cam video from 8/12 following altercation between #GabbyPetitio & #BrianLaundrie. No charges were filed. Petito was listed as suspect, Laundrie the victim. Police separated them for the night. @news12li pic.twitter.com/Hw5RTT0b35— Kevin Maher (@KMaherNews12) September 16, 2021
Pratt and Robbins are also currently listed as defendants in a pending $50M wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Petito's family. The notice of intent to file, which is required before suing government entities, also lists its then chief Bret Edge and ex assistant chief Braydon Palmer. Brian Stewart, an attorney for the family, said the officers "failed to properly investigate the reported domestic assault, and thus failed to fully appreciate or respond to Gabby's life-threatening situation."
A photo posted to Moab PD's Facebook page earlier also shows Pratt in his detective uniform as he gathers with colleagues in the first image of him since the department was thrust into the national spotlight. Edge has since quit the Moab Police Department.
According to The Sun, Danielle Hunt, a store manager at Nature's West, said angrily, "I did hear that one of the officers got promoted. That's honestly going in the wrong direction in my opinion. That's the worst thing that they could have done, promote somebody that f***ed up, are you kidding me? I was flabbergasted by it. I don't believe it should have happened." She further added, "I don't know if Gabby's family has gotten wind of Pratt's new role, but I feel like that would've pushed me to file a lawsuit. Like, what are you doing? I'd be furious."
Another Moab resident, Barbara Lawley, called Pratt’s promotion “strange” because she believes the officer-turned-detective "shouldn't be rewarded" for "bungling" his encounter with Petito before her murder. "That's ridiculous if you ask me, I didn't know, as locals we know very little,” Sarah McFarland, another Moab resident, said. "The only thing I ever see them do is block roads when something's going on. That's about it."