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Bodycam footage shows Mountain View police officers as they interacted with Nasim Aghdam, the woman who would later be identified as the YouTube shooting suspect. Officers approached her while she was sleeping in her car in a Walmart parking lot.
SAN FRANCISCO — Chilling police body cam footage released Friday shows YouTube shooter Nasim Aghdam in her car in a Walmart parking lot, talking to officers and telling them she doesn’t want to hurt herself or anyone else.
Eleven hours later Aghdam appeared at YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, Calif., where she shot three people and then killed herself.
Mountain View, Calif. police released the police body camera footage Friday afternoon, along with the dispatch radio traffic associated with the case.
“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,” the department said in a statement that accompanied the footage.
The footage begins at about 1:38 am on April 3. Officers on patrol run the license plate of a car parked in the Walmart parking lot. They later explain to Aghdam, 39, that they often run such plates as stolen vehicles are sometimes left there.
The results from the search showed there is a missing person’s report linked to the car.
At that point the unnamed male officer activates his officer-worn camera and approaches the vehicle, looking in with a flashlight to see if anyone is inside. He finds a woman sleeping in the back of the car.
The dispatcher runs a check and finds no records of threats of violence on behalf of the woman. She was also not listed on the Armed and Prohibited Persons System, which 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, the department said.
A second officer arrives and the Mountain View police dispatch center says 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.
The officers approached the car and knocked on Aghdam’s window. She wakes up and appears somewhat disoriented, telling them she left her family in San Diego because we’re not getting along. She is calm and soft-spoken and provides identification when asked.
Aghdam is wearing a pink hoodie with the hood over her head and a white t-shirt. Her car is full of cups, trash and other items. She holds her hands in an odd manner, her fingers splayed out, as she tries to turn on her cell phone. Multiple times she runs the back of her hand over her forehead as if she were sweating.
The female officer asks her if she was taking any type of medication or if she is supposed to be taking medication, to which she responds “No.”
“You don’t want want to hurt your self, do you? You don’t want to hurt anybody else? You don’t want to commit suicide or anything like that?” the female officer asks her.
Aghdam shakes her head no to each question.
When asked why she came to Mountain View, Aghdam told the officers she had family in the area and wanted to start a new life away from San Diego.
The officers tell her they will contact her father to say that she had been found in Mountain View and the video-taped interaction ends.
Because she was cooperative and did not appear to present any sort of threat, continuing to unnecessarily question or delay her could have lead to an unwarranted detention, the department said in a statement.
Officers “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,” the statement said.
The officers then called Aghdam’s father and told him she had been located and that she didn’t want to go back to San Diego. The father thanked them and hung up.
About an hour later he called the officer back to say that his daughter had recently become upset about changes on the YouTube platform that had affected videos she posted on living a vegan lifestyle and suggested that may have been one of the reasons she had driven to that 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,” the department’ statement said.
A few hours later, Aghdam went to a gun range where she practiced shooting. After that, she went to the YouTube headquarters and opened fire.
Police have said the only connection they can find between Aghdam and YouTube is her anger that the service had recently changed how she was compensated for posting videos.
“They only care for personal short-term profits and do anything to reach their goals…” Aghdam posted on her website. “There is no free speech in the real world and you will be suppressed for telling the truth that is not supported by the system.”
An animal rights activist, the videos she posted were a mix satire, glamour shots and dark humor to rail against authority, capitalism and popular culture along with workout videos and vegan cooking tips. She posted in English, Turkish and Farsi, the language of her native Iran.
Aghdam’s family immigrated to the United States in 1996, and her father told the Bay Area News Group that his daughter had shown no previous signs of being inclined to violence.