Dec. 13, 2017 – WUSA- Montgomery County police say they have body camera video of officers encountering an apparently drunk 17-year old Walt Whitman High School student in the hours before the teen died after attending a suspected underage drinking party. But police did not cite the teen for the suspected underage drinking or take him into custody.
According to a written statement issued by the department, patrol officers recognized that Navid Sepehri “may have been under the influence” during the encounter outside the home of an Austrian diplomat in Bethesda. However, officers reported Sepehri was among a group of teens who claimed they had called their parents to come pick them up. According to Sepehri’s father, that didn’t happen.
Instead Mr. Sepehri says he found his son’s body about 19 hours later lying face up in a small stream nearby. The teen had apparently drowned and a bottle of vodka was found in one pocket. According to police, patrol officers at the party determined “there were not applicable criminal or civil charges”. Police also report that adult residents at the home said they ordered all their young guests to leave when they discovered uninvited older teens had brought alcohol.
Officers said there was no evidence of an ongoing party at the home when they were present. No charges were filed against the party hosts, who include an Austrian diplomat.
Police also report that Mr. Seperhi went to the department’s 2nd District station on Sat approximately 3:23 A.M., regarding his son not coming home Saturday night. An officer and Mr. Sepehri conversed. There was no missing person report taken at that time.
During this investigation, detectives learned that 2nd District (Bethesda) officers responded to the report of a possible underage drinking party and disorderly persons outside of a residence in the 6500 block of Elgin Lane in Bethesda on Saturday, December 9 at approximately 10:30 p.m. This call for service was captured on officers’ body-worn cameras.
When patrol officers responded to Elgin Lane, they observed a group of approximately six males, who appeared to be juveniles, standing in the roadway. Some of those juveniles ran away as the officers approached them. Officers interacted with the males who remained; one of whom was later identified as Sepehri.
At least one of the juveniles stated that there had been a party at a nearby residence and when the adult homeowners (parents) of the residence realized that uninvited guests had brought alcohol to the party, the parents asked everyone to phone their parents for rides home and to leave. The juveniles explained to officers that they were now waiting for their parents to come and pick them up.
Officers recognized that Sepehri may have been under the influence and confirmed with the juveniles that Sepehri would leave when the juveniles left. Officers determined that there were no applicable criminal or civil charges to be placed against the juveniles they had encountered and the officers then went to speak with the adults of the home.
The adult male resident of the home where the party had been held was standing in front of his home. Officers spoke with him, and he confirmed what the juveniles had stated – that uninvited teenagers, most of whom he believed likely learned about the party via social media, had come to the home and when he and the adult female learned that alcohol was present at the party, told everyone to call their parents for a ride and to leave. Officers walked with the male to the back of the home where it appeared the party, in part, had taken place. At that time, the adult female exited the home and also engaged in conversation with officers. The officers did not observe any evidence of an ongoing party.
During the investigation, detectives also determined that Sepehri’s father had come to the 2nd District station on Sunday, December 10, at approximately 3:23 a.m. regarding his son not coming home Saturday night. An officer and Mr. Sepehri conversed. There was no missing person report taken at that time.
At approximately 12:46 p.m. on Sunday, December 10, officers took a missing person report for Sepehri. A police search was initiated, aided by cell phone information for Sepehri’s phone provided by his family. During the search, at approximately 4:58 p.m., Sepehri was located deceased in a wooded area. He was found in a stream in a ravine.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is conducting an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of Sepehri’s death.