BETHESDA, Md. - A grieving family has questions for police after they admitted they should have taken a missing persons report for 17-year-old Navid Sepehri hours before his father found the Walt Whitman High School senior dead in a ravine.
Farshid Sepehri said he first reported his son missing to a Montgomery County police officer outside a Bethesda station at about 3 a.m. on Sunday. Farshid Sepehri said the officer shrugged off his concern, telling him Navid was probably at a friend's house.
Wednesday night police admitted they should have taken the report then and there. Instead, they did not officially take the report until late Sunday morning. It's unclear if police would have started their search even if they had taken Farshid Sepehri's report in the early morning hours.
Police also revealed Tuesday that they had spoken with the teen, who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, when they responded to an underage drinking party on Saturday at about 10:30 p.m. That was one of the last times anyone saw Navid alive. Officers, who captured the encounter on body cameras, allowed Navid to go home alone.
Capt. Paul Starks said officers had no legal reason to detain Navid.
"There was no criminal or civil violation that was occurring at that point for the officers to witness. In Maryland, you have to have possession of an alcohol beverage or be consuming an alcoholic beverage in order for that to be an infraction," Starks explained.
The Sepehri family believes a simple call to them asking them to come pick Navid up would have saved his life.
"I wish to God he was arrested for just being drunk in public, a 17-year-old on the street and he would be here right now," said Mary Nosrati, a family friend, speaking on the Sepehri's behalf.
After the encounter with police friends say Navid got separated from them. His father found him dead in a ravine near Bannockburn Swimming Club at about 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Police said they are reviewing their officers' actions in their encounter with the teen and in not taking the first missing persons report. It's possible anything learned during their review could impact future policies.
"Members of the police department have expressed their concern and sympathy for Navid’s family, especially those who were apart of this investigation. The department's heart goes out to Navid’s family," said Starks.
Investigators were still waiting for the teen's autopsy to reveal the cause of death, but it appears to have been accidental.