The Mountain View Police Department released body camera footage on Friday morning showing officers' interaction with suspected YouTube shooter Nasim Aghdam roughly 10 hours before she opened fire at YouTube's headquarters in San Bruno earlier this month, wounding three people.
Officers located Aghdam, a 38-year-old Southern California woman, and spoke to her around 1:40 a.m. on April 3 in a San Antonio Shopping Center parking lot, and left after concluding she was not a threat to herself or others. Witnesses said she opened fire with a handgun at the YouTube campus around noon the same day, injuring three people before shooting and killing herself.
Mountain View police maintain that the department's response was appropriate, given that she showed no threats of violence and came up negative on several firearm background checks.
"Based on our officers' interaction with Aghdam, including the fact that she had answered all of our questions cooperatively and thoroughly, there was no legal reason for us to remain on scene questioning her," police said in a statement.
Police released body cam footage from two officers who spoke to Aghdam, along with audio from police dispatch, totaling about 14 minutes of footage that included a conversation between officers and Aghdam.
The footage shows that police were checking license plates in the parking lot, and found that Aghdam's license plate was registered to someone reporting missing out of San Diego County late last month and "at risk." One of the officers explained to Aghdam that this is a routine practice to identify stolen vehicles occasionally found in the parking lot late at night. The officers can be seen approaching Aghdam's vehicle and knocking on the window, waking her up.
During the conversation, Aghdam told officers that she came to Mountain View about two days ago from San Diego, and that she had left because of an unspecified conflict with family members. She said she had no intent of going back and wanted to start a new life in the Bay Area, saying she had left her cellphone at home and did not want to be contacted by her family.
A police dispatcher confirmed, shortly before the interaction, that Aghdam was considered at risk only because it was unusual for her to disappear.
In a statement accompanying the body cam footage, Mountain View police officials said officers made the correct call to drop the interaction, and that continuing to "unnecessarily question or delay" a person could amount to unwarranted detention.
While it's not shown in the video, the police department said it conducted a thorough background check on Aghdam, including use of the "Armed and Prohibited Persons System" to track handgun purchases and "registered assault weapons" against a database of people who are prohibited from owning firearms, police said.
"We have confirmed all systems checks (a total of seven) regarding Aghdam came back negative," meaning she was not barred from owning a weapon, according to the statement.
Also not included in the video is a subsequent call by Mountain View police to Aghdam's father, Ismail Aghdam, who confirmed that his daughter had not been getting along with the family, thanked police for the update on where she was and hung up. Aghdam called police back an hour later to say that Nasim was "upset" about recent actions YouTube took that affected the vegan-related videos she produced, which might be one of the reasons she was in the area. The call however, was not enough to indicate she planned to carry out a violent attack later that day, police said.
"At no point in either of our conversations did the family bring up any concerns about their daughterâ€™s behavior, any potential violence she may carry out, or any likelihood that she could be a danger to herself or others," police said.
Police Chief Max Bosel, in a statement, said the department's internal review found both officers correctly followed police procedures and protocol, and that the welfare check on Nasim Aghdam showed no signs she might be a threat to herself and others.
"The tragedy of the incident at YouTube weighs heavily on our hearts but we support and stand by the actions taken by our officers in their contact with Ms. Aghdam," Bosel said.