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Brian Laundrie cop who pulled him and Gabby Petito over in Utah 'used loopholes to get people off' & SLAMMED his own job

A COP who pulled over Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie for a domestic dispute in Utah quit his job more than once and slammed his profession – admitting he often used his own "loopholes" to get people off.

Eric Pratt, a former police chief who now works patrol for Moab Police Department, appeared in shocking bodycam footage showing a weeping Gabby telling the officer Laundrie hit her – just weeks before she was found dead.


"Well 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," she told Pratt in the video. "When I touch it, it burns."

She insisted she lashed out at Laundrie first and discussed her issues with anxiety, as Pratt told her: "I have anxiety too, my girlfriend's really, really calm, and she has a way of taking my anxiety and bringing it down.

"But my ex-wife, to help you understand, we would feed off each other's anxiety and it would spiral.

"And it doesn't matter how much I loved her. [It] may be bad for your soul, I'm just saying."

Despite Gabby and witnesses claiming they saw Laundrie assault her, officer Pratt labeled her the "primary aggressor" in the footage and called Laundrie the "victim."

The response ended without an arrest, and the couple were separated for the night, before continuing on their van trip until Gabby was found dead in Wyoming on September 19.

Pratt discussed his police career on the Books In Heinessight Podcast in 2019, in which he revealed he quit as Chief of Salina County two years earlier, before going back into the profession despite hating his job.

He then quit a second time while working for Moab Police Department – but appears to have returned to law enforcement yet again before being thrown into the spotlight in the Petito case.

Pratt says there were many reasons he became "disillusioned" with police work, explaining in Salina he had to think more about legislation and how politics affected his department.

"When the curtain got lifted and I got to see how everything's going, why things are the way they are, I started to realize nobody really has the answers, we're all kind of clueless," he said.

"The people who we put in place, they're just like us. And so you start to have to do critical thinking. I think there's a time in every man's life when he kind of gets to know who he is and has to think critically.

"I'm a conspiracy guy too when it comes to critical thinking. Sometimes the conspiracy is the best, simplest and most logical answer.

"Long story short, at the same time I started to just kind of think 'wow, why is this law this way', because if I go and enforce that law, I'm going to have this impact on this person's life, and it's my job to do it.

"Is there another way I can enforce this law that's lesser or more appropriate to this situation? Or more severe or more appropriate for this situation?"

Read our Gabby Petito live blog for the very latest news and updates…

He admitted: "Some days I felt like a glorified tax collector for the state.

"You know, I grew up in a very poor family, I grew up with parents who couldn't always register their car on time, two or three months out.

"I used to pull people over for no insurance, and I was supposed to impound their vehicle," he said, insisting if it was because of financial reasons a $400 ticket and an impound didn't help.

He went on: "I'd find my own loopholes, perfectly legal and I think very just loopholes.

"For example, I'd tell the person, hey, this stop is going to take me about 15 to 17 minutes, if nothing else arises.

"If you could call an insurance company and get insurance over the phone and get it right now, most people can do that for under $100, and if you can show me proof of it and I can confirm it because this stop is over, I won't submit the citation and I won't impound your car and you can drive away."

STRESSFUL ROLE

Pratt blasted: "Who do I work for? I get paid by the state and the city, but who does the state and the city work for? Us.

"The people that I pull over, the people whose houses I go to. Whose team am I on? There shouldn't be an us vs them.

"Those kinds of questions started to keep me awake at night, as I do things I had to do for my job, and it impacted people.

"I'm not saying police are not necessary, and I'm not saying they're not amazing people, but man, it just suits some people better than others.

"It took me 13 years of doing it to realize, I could do it, but I don't feel good, I don't like it. I'm glad someone is doing it, and I respect them, but I just can't keep doing it."

Moab Police Chief Bret Edge has taken a leave of absence as his department faces a formal investigation into its handling of the Petito-Laundrie police stop.

A city spokeswoman previously confirmed he requested leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides eligible employees with a limited amount of unpaid leave during a qualifying event.

The Sun reached out to the department for comment on Pratt's remarks about his role, and to confirm whether or not he is still a serving officer with Moab.

Assistant Chief Braydon Palmer told us: "Due to the matter being under investigation I cannot comment at this time."

Pratt added in the podcast that the job "doesn't pay enough for that kind of stress," and insisted even if he was paid two or three times his wage he'd still not want do it.

"What good is your money if you're dead? Cops do it for pretty low wages in this state," he added.

Critics, including Brett Tolman, a former U.S. attorney for Utah, have questioning on social media whether police should have done more while responding to Petito's Utah incident on August 12.

Matt Hienes, who hosts the podcast, defended Pratt in Facebook and YouTube comments, writing: "She should have gone to jail for assault. Is anyone saying that?

"Eric is a nice guy. I hope they aren't going to crucify him because they can't find this dude to find out what happened to them."

Missing Laundrie, 23, remains the only person of interest after Gabby's death was ruled as a homicide and is subject of a federal arrest warrant alleging debit card fraud.

COP'S ADMISSION

In a bio on podcastguests.com, Pratt, 39, also explains his full background in policing and reveals he's a former radical Mormon, which he discussed at length on the Matt's show.

He writes: "I spent three years working as a correctional officer at the Utah State Prison before becoming a patrolman for a rural police department in the middle of nowhere, Utah.

"I served as a member of SWAT and also as a narcotic interdiction K9 handler before accepting an appointment as Chief of Police.

"After nearly four years in that capacity I fell out of love with my career.

"I resigned as Chief before going back to work as a patrolman, hoping to rekindle my passion for police work.

"After discovering that my love for the profession was indeed beyond resuscitation, I quit again and hopefully for good."

He added: "On the topic of religion, I spent 23 years as an aggressively active member of the Mormon Church and spent 2 years as a proselytizing Mormon missionary before eventually leaving the church and disavowing religion as a whole."

On the site, visitors can book Pratt to appear on their podcast, and he includes a list of top ten questions for hosts to ask him, featuring: "What can be done to prevent violence in our culture?"

Online articles show after leaving the force in 2019, he opened a restaurant called Pratt's Place with his then wife Jess, although the number and website for the eatery appear to be dead.

"When I left Salina I was trying to quit law enforcement for good," he explained on the podcast. "And I made it about eight or nine months before I went back, there's not a lot of jobs outside of law enforcement outside of central Utah. 

"This is where my kids are and my family, I didn't feel like I could get too far away. So after trying to find employment closer to central Utah, I eventually had to go back to law enforcement because that's really all I knew."




Gabby Petito timeline

Gabby Petito, 22, was last seen on August 24, leaving a hotel in Utah. Here is a timeline of Gabby Petito’s disappearance:

  • June 2021 – Gabby Petito and her fiancé Brian Laundrie set off on a cross-country trip across the US.
  • July 4 – Gabby posts photos of herself barefoot in Gove County, Kansas.
  • July 8 – Gabby posts photos of herself at the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.
  • July 18 – Gabby and Brian post photos of themselves at Utah's Zion National Park.
  • August 12 – Body camera footage was released in September showing an encounter Brian and Gabby had with police in Utah. Police confirmed that no significant injuries were reported.
  • August 19 – Gabby and Brian post a video on their YouTube channel chronicling their trip.
  • August 24 – Gabby is spotted leaving a hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • August 25 – Gabby Facetimes her mom, Nichole Schmidt, for the final time. In a later police report, Schmidt said her conversations with her daughter revealed "more and more tension" between her and Brian.
  • August 25 – Gabby also posts her last Instagram. No location is given.
  • August 27 – Gabby is seen for what's believed to be the final time. Witnesses claim they saw Brian in an explosive argument with staff at a restaurant in Jackson Hole, leaving Gabby in tears.
  • August 27 – Four hours later, travel bloggers driving through Grand Teton National Park drive past the couple's van "abandoned" on a dirt road.
  • September 1 – Brian returns home to Florida without Gabby.
  • September 11 – Gabby's parents report her missing to Suffolk County police.
  • September 14 – Brian's family issues a statement saying he has retained an attorney and will not be cooperating with investigators.
  • September 14 – Brian is allegedly last seen by his family. He reportedly told them he was going hiking in Cartlon Reserve but failed to return.
  • September 15 – Florida's North Port police announce Brian is a person of interest in the case. He is not charged with any crime.
  • September 16 – Utah police release body camera footage of the police encounter with Brian and Gabby.
  • September 17 – Brian's parents say they have not seen their son in a couple of days and report him missing.
  • September 18 – Police announce they were searching Carlton Reserve in Florida for Brian. Police announce they have not found anything.
  • September 19 – Authorities in Wyoming say they found a body in Grand Teton National Park. The FBI announces the body was believed to be Gabby's but a full forensic identification needs to be completed first to confirm.
  • September 20 – Police execute a search warrant on Laundrie's home, seizing his silver Mustang and a hard drive that may contain "evidence relevant to proving that a felony has been committed."
  • September 21 – Officials announce they will be conducting an autopsy on the remains found in Wyoming to confirm whether or not they belong to Gabby. Police also resumed their search for Laundrie, this time on the Venice side of Carlton Reserve.
  • September 21 – The FBI announced the body found in Wyoming was identified as Gabby's. The cause of death was not yet revealed.
  • September 21 – The Teton County Coroner's office said Gabby's official cause of death was still pending but the initial manner of death is homicide.
  • September 22 – Police continue to scour Carlton Reserve for a trace of Laundrie but yield no leads. A specialist dive team is called in to assist with the hunt.
  • September 23 – Officials announced a federal arrest warrant for Brian was issued.
  • September 26 – Gabby's funeral was held on Long Island, New York.

 

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