During the extensive search for Brian Laundrie, the Florida police chief responsible for keeping track of the fugitive admitted to “human error” in the case.
North Port, Fla., Police Chief Todd Garrison spoke about the issue at a community event on Friday night at the South County Tiger Bay Club.
He said his agency made mistakes in their investigation, including mistaking Laundrie’s mother, Roberta, for her son during surveillance, reported NYPost.
The fact that she was wearing a baseball cap and was “built similarly” to Brian caused the confusion.
“As a leader, what do I do?” Garrison said. “No, people want open transparency and honesty from their law enforcement officials.”
“Yes, we made a mistake,” he added. “It was human error, but I still stand behind my team.”
Sarasota County Sheriff Kurt Hoffman, whose agency participated in the search for Laundrie, applauded Garrison and his staff, saying they did their best under challenging circumstances.
“We talked probably 20 times during that situation and obviously we supported them out in the preserve looking for Brian Laundrie,” Hoffman said.
“That guy went out there and by all accounts probably committed suicide and he was right out there where we thought he was,” Sheriff Hoffman added. “There was four feet of water out there at the time.”
Petito’s body was discovered in Wyoming in September, prompting a countrywide search for Laundrie. Petito died by strangling, according to authorities, and her death was ruled a homicide. In Petito’s case, Laundrie was designated as a person of interest, reported People.
He was last seen on Sept. 13, when he allegedly left his parents’ North Port house, saying he was going for a hike in the area where his body was subsequently discovered.
Chief Garrison defended his department’s efforts during the event.
“I can tell you one thing,” Garrison said. “The amount of work that was done, behind the scenes, 24 hours a day, from our team and the FBI team working on the second floor of the police department, was phenomenal work.”
“That work led the search teams to locate Gabby Petito deceased. … I want to remind everyone: our primary focus the first couple of days was to find Gabby.
“If Brian did go on the run, he would be found; I was confident of that,” he continued. “People are making judgments on things that were discovered or learned over the last five weeks.
“We didn’t know a lot of this information over the first four days.”