We would like to share with you, in their entirety, the officer worn camera footage and the dispatch radio traffic we have in connection with Mountain View police officers’ interaction with Nasim Aghdam, the Menifee woman who would later be identified as the YouTube shooting suspect.
Below is the footage from both officers’ cameras who responded to the scene and interacted with Aghdam, as well as our dispatcher’s phone call to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department inquiring about the missing person’s report.
We have also included a breakdown of the interaction from the time the officer checks Aghdam’s Pontiac license plate to the moment in which our officers conclude their interaction with Aghdam.
As the criminal investigation into the shooting has progressed, we initially deferred the public release of the video to San Bruno PD to allow them time to review it. San Bruno PD has confirmed that the video is no longer needed as part of their ongoing investigation. We understand the public interest in MVPD's footage, and we believe that sharing our officers' footage is tantamount to our constant pursuit of transparency. To that end, we are now able to provide the content below, and we thank you for your patience.
A few notes before we proceed further. You will notice that the length of footage from our two officers is different. Our first officer to arrive on scene had been proactively patrolling the parking lot at 600 Showers Drive, and when the license plate for Aghdam’s car was connected to the missing person’s report, a second officer was sent to the scene as a “fill,” (or commonly known as a backup officer). In a majority of our patrol checks, stops and interactions, our officers will ask for a second officer to arrive on scene to “fill” to not only be an additional resource for the person with whom we make contact, but to also be there in the event that an encounter results in a potential danger to officer safety. As such, the second copy of footage that runs for roughly 9 minutes is that of the officer who came in to provide the “fill” in this circumstance.
CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER OF EVENTS:
On April 3 around 1:38 am, our officer patrolling a parking lot on the 600 block of Showers Drive runs a license plate that matches one provided in a missing person’s report out of the San Diego area. Immediately after the results of his search come in, dispatch radios him to let him know about the missing person's report. He confirms he is aware of the report and parks his vehicle. He then steps out of the car and activates his officer-worn camera.
A few seconds later, our officer approaches the vehicle and looks in on both the driver’s side and the passenger’s side to see if anyone is inside.
Our officer then learns results of the license plate check come back to report that the car is registered to 38-year-old Nasim Aghdam and that she has been reported missing and “at-risk” out of San Diego County.
Our officer confirms via his radio that he has found a woman sleeping in the back of the vehicle. A routine records check did not reveal any hits or threats of violence. Several systems are checked during this initial investigation including the Armed and Prohibited Persons System (APPS). APPS is a system that cross references records of persons who lawfully purchased handguns and/or registered assault weapons with records of persons who have become prohibited from owning and possessing firearms. Should a person be prohibited from owning a firearm, that would have been noted in our check and the officer would have been notified. We have confirmed all systems checks (a total of seven) regarding Aghdam came back negative.
Our officer gets back into his vehicle and begins to question why Aghdam was reported “at risk” in the missing person’s report, to which our dispatch center confirms they will call down to San Diego County to inquire further. Penal Code section 14215(b), defines “at risk” as, but not limited to, a person missing because of circumstances including being the victim of a crime or foul play, needing medical attention, having no pattern of running away or disappearing, being the victim of parent/family abduction, or being mentally impaired.
A short while later, our second officer arrives on scene. The officers again discuss why Aghdam may be at risk, what needs to be addressed at the scene, and any potential next steps. During this discussion, our dispatch center has made a phone call to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department to further inquire about the “at-risk” status attached to the missing person’s report.
Our dispatch center then reports back to the officers the reason Aghdam was reported “at risk” when the missing person’s report was filed was because she had no prior reports of having gone missing.
Shortly after learning about the report, our officers approach the car and knock on Aghdam’s window.
After knocking on her window and waking Aghdam, our officers notified Aghdam that she had been reported missing out of the San Diego area, and they learn from Aghdam that she had left her family as she and her family members were not getting along. Our officers ask for identification, which Aghdam provides. Our officers again ask why she decided to leave, and Aghdam again states they were not getting along and that they were having issues.
We ask if Aghdam had attempted to contact her family or if her family had reached out to her. Aghdam states she left her cell phone behind in San Diego County but had purchased a new one at some point before our contact with her. She states while she is ok with us looking at it, she did not want her family to know her new number.
Then, our officers ask Aghdam if she is taking or should be taking any medications. Aghdam responds, “No.” Our officers then ask Aghdam if she wants to hurt herself, and Aghdam shakes her head and says no. Our officers then ask if she wants to hurt others and she shakes her head “No.” Our officers again ask if she wants to commit suicide and she shakes her head “No” again.
Our officers follow up by asking Aghdam why she came to Mountain View. Aghdam states she has family in the area and that she wanted to start a new life away from San Diego.
After confirming Aghdam’s phone number, our officers explain to Aghdam that her father will be informed that she has been found in Mountain View. We explain that the statewide system she had been entered into when she was reported missing, known as MUPS, will be updated to show that she has been found.
Less than two minutes later, our interaction with Aghdam concludes and our footage for the first officer ends.
In this instance if an individual is cooperative and does not present any sort of threat, continuing to unnecessarily question or delay them can lead to an unwarranted detention. As such, our officers are constantly cognizant of this dynamic and in this context, look to strike the balance between investigative police work and maintaining the civil liberties of those that they contact. 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.
Shortly after the recording ended, our officer called Aghdam’s family in San Diego to inform them that she had been found.
Aghdam’s father, Ismail Aghdam, answered the phone when we called to inform him that his daughter had been located. He confirmed Aghdam’s story that he and his daughter had been having trouble getting along, then asked if Aghdam was planning on returning home. Our officer stated that in speaking with Aghdam, it appeared she did not wish to go back to the San Diego area. The father thanked us for the call and hung up. Roughly one hour after that, the father called back to let our officer know that his daughter had recently become upset about changes on the YouTube platform that had impacted videos she had created on living a vegan lifestyle. The father suggested that may have been one of the reasons she was in the area. At no point in either of our conversations did the family bring up any concerns about their daughter’s behavior, any potential violence she may carry out, or any likelihood that she could be a danger to herself or others.
Unfortunately, there are no copies of phone calls between MVPD officers and Ismail Aghdam on the morning of April 3 due to the fact that the calls were not recorded. Officers do not routinely record calls with reporting parties or relatives of missing persons. Doing so would require a specific investigatory reason, which was not the case here as there was no reason for further investigation. 9-1-1 calls, however, are recorded and can be subject to public record. Unfortunately, in neither case did the family call our police department or 9-1-1.
When our officer who spoke with the Aghdam family on Tuesday, April 3, he used a department-issued cell phone at the time of the conversations, and our department-issued cell phone policy does not require officers to record other conversations. It is not normal protocol or procedure for our officers to record telephone conversations with the public. It is also unreasonable to expect an officer on duty to return to their department to make a phone call if they can safely conduct their business out in the field while maintaining their ability to perform their regular patrol duties.
“A review of the incident revealed that our officers followed proper procedure and protocol. In this case, they checked on the welfare of a person who, at the time, was reported missing but whose actions, demeanor, and answers did not present any information which would cause us to believe she would be a threat to herself or others,” said Chief Max Bosel. "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.”
Our thoughts continue to remain with those impacted by this event, and we continue to think of those who are making remarkable strides in their recovery from this horrific incident. We remain fully confident in the investigative efforts of the San Bruno Police Department and of the agencies assisting them in their efforts.