Gabby Petito's Mom on Police Cam Footage: 'I Wanted to Jump Through the Screen and Rescue Her'

Police classified the Aug. 12 incident between Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie as "disorderly conduct" rather than domestic violence

Gabby Petito's mother recently addressed the widely-circulated body cam footage capturing the Aug. 12 police encounter involving her daughter and Brian Laundrie two weeks before the 22-year-old woman went missing.

"It's just hard to watch. I wanted to jump through the screen and rescue her," Petito's mother, Nicole Schmidt, said of the footage in an interview with 60 Minutes Australia.

"I saw a young girl that needed someone to just hug her and keep her safe. I just felt so bad for her. I wish that she reached out to me."

The footage captured the couple's encounter with police in Moab, Utah. At the time, police classified the incident as "disorderly conduct" rather than domestic violence, and determined Petito — who cried and appeared highly distressed throughout the footage — was the aggressor. Police advised the couple to spend the night apart, with Petito keeping the van in which they were traveling and the 23-year-old Laundrie — who appeared calm in the video — being sent to a hotel.

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But information that came to light after the release of the initial body cam footage belies the police assessment.

Gabby Petito case: Full bodycam video from second Utah officer
Gabby Petito, as seen on body cam footage from Aug. 12, 2021. Moab City Police Department

An eyewitness who called 911 to report the incident told the dispatcher Laundrie had been slapping Petito.

Another eyewitness, who provided a written statement, said it appeared Laundrie was possibly trying to lock Petito out of the van and take her phone.

And in additional footage from the body cam of another officer, released weeks after the original footage, Petito is heard telling police that Laundrie grabbed her face and hit her.

During that video, taken by a body camera on Moab Police officer Eric Pratt, Pratt tells Petito that two people claimed to have seen Laundrie hit her, and asks if this is true.

Gabby Petito, Brian Laundrie
Gabby Petito, Brian Laundrie. Find Gabby/Facebook

"I, I guess, yeah, but I hit him first," Petito responds, according to the footage.

Pratt then asks for clarification. "You slapped him first? And just on his face?"

"Well, he kept telling me to shut up," Petito responds, "but I hit him first. ...Well, he like grabbed my face, like, I guess ... He didn't like, hit me in the face. He didn't, like, punch me in the face or anything...He, like, grabbed me with his nail, and I guess that's why it looks ... definitely I was cut right here [points to cheek] because I can feel it. When I touch it, it burns."

In the footage, Petito seemingly looks for a way to minimize the incident.

"Can't we just have, like, a driving ticket?" she asks, sobbing. She offers to pay any ticket instead of bringing charges against either her or Laundrie.

In the police report of the traffic stop, Pratt initially wrote that he believed "it was reported the male had been observed to have assaulted the female," but later seemingly contradicted the earlier statement and wrote that "no one reported that the male struck the female."

The city of Moab said in a September statement to CNN last week that it has launched an investigation into the incident.

"We understand that individuals can view the same situation in very different ways, and we recognize how the death of Ms. Petito more than two weeks later in Wyoming might lead to speculation, in hindsight, about actions taken during the incident in Moab," the city wrote. "The purpose of the City's formal investigation is to gather the underlying facts and evidence necessary to make a thorough, informed evaluation of such actions."

Mom Thought Laundrie 'Would Take Care of' Petito

Cornell University forensic psychiatrist Dr. Ziv Cohen reviewed the initial footage for PEOPLE. While he has never met or treated Petito or Laundrie, he was able to use his experience to observe the couple's body language and demeanor — and make a speculative assessment on their relationship.

Cohen said the footage raises "alarm bells about a potential domestic abuse situation."

Cohen noted that Petito seemed like she was "not really able to explain how the incident began. That seems to fit the profile of a domestic abuse situation, where you have the victim self-blaming and trying to protect the abuser."

Gabby Petito
Gabby Petito, Brian Laundrie. Gabby Petito Instagram

Noting the contrast between Petito's demeanor and how calm Laundrie seemed, Cohen said that Laundrie "just doesn't seem to be particularly forthcoming, at last not from what I saw in the footage. His behavior doesn't match the situation in terms of the level of concern you would expect a partner to show towards his girlfriend."

In her interview with 60 Minutes Australia, Schmidt said she was initially had concerns about her daughter's safety regarding her trip — but that she trusted Laundrie.

"I felt safe because she was with Brian, and I felt like she would be okay ... I thought that he would take care of her," she said.

Gabby Petito
Gabby Petito. Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock

Last week, Teton County Coroner Brent Blue announced that Petito had been strangled to death three to four weeks before the discovery of her remains in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park on Sept. 15.

Laundrie is currently missing and is considered a fugitive. A warrant for his arrest was issued in late September, accusing Laundrie of unauthorized use of a debit card.

He has been named a person of interest in Petito's case, but has not been named a suspect in connection with her death. His family's attorney has said his parents have no idea where he is.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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