Three Orange County inmates who cut through steel bars and rappelled off the rooftop of a maximum-security facility in Santa Ana early last year used a cellphone camera to film their daring escape, video obtained by KTLA on Wednesday showed.
The approximately 15-minute video was released by an attorney for Adam Hossein Nayeri, one of the escaped inmates. In addition to showing how he and two other inmates — Jonathan Tieu and Bac Duong — were able to break out of the jail, the footage also detailed what the three men did while on the run for more than a week.
The video began with a montage of a press conference by Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, followed by various news reports of the jail escape; included in the footage was information provided by the Sheriff’s Department on how the trio managed to get out.
It then cut to a screen with block letter imposed over a background that read, “So … What really happened?” After, a man who identified him as Nayeri speaks.
“My name is Adam Hossein Nayeri,” he said in voice-over. “You know, a lot of people like to credit us with some Houdini escape act all in eight minutes flat.”
According to the Sheriff’s Department, the three men broke out of the Men’s Central Jail on Jan. 22, 2016, after hatching an elaborate escape plan over a period of weeks and possibly months.
They used tools to cut through metal and rebar, climbed into a plumbing tunnel, and rappelled down the side of the facility with a makeshift rope, officials said at the time.
The three were last seen during a count at 5 a.m. that Friday morning, and were discovered missing that same day around 9 p.m. A grainy surveillance video released the same weekend they escaped showed the moments before they descended from the multistory facility’s rooftop.
Nayeri called the version of events “an interesting myth,” before offering his take on what happened.
“In reality, it is true, we did leave that module after count. Not the one they’re claiming though — I left that mod at least eight hours earlier the night before.”
When they fled, they had a duffel bag and backpack filled with a number of items, including industrial-strength rope and a toolbox, as well as clothes and shoes, he said.
After the voice-over concludes, the video – set to Queen’s “Under Pressure” – purported to show the jail the morning of the escape.
Editorial note: Due to copyright reasons, music has been removed from the video embedded in this article.
Then, the actual escape is shown. In the footage, Nayeri is seen as the first to crawl in the cut-through vent and into a plumbing shaft within the jail walls, stopping to give a thumbs-up. As he did so, the “Mission Impossible” theme began to play on the video.
The inmates cut through more bars in order to gain access to the unsecured rooftop of the jail, which they then repelled down with the aid of a rope. The video, however, does not show how they got to the ground.
The video then cut to photos from Santa Cruz, where the trio fled — along with Long Ma, a taxicab driver they allegedly kidnapped after the escape. Later, Nayeri and Tieu are seen in the city of San Francisco, where the pair were eventually captured on Jan. 30.
Duong was not with the two in the Bay Area, having turned himself in to authorities in Santa Ana two days before Nayeri and Tieu were apprehended.
Nayeri addressed Duong’s surrender in the video, calling him “the first man in history to try and collect reward money on himself.”
All three faced additional charges in connection with the escape, including kidnapping and vehicle theft.
“You know, we cost the taxpayers a lot of money,” Nayeri said at the end of the video. “People work hard to learn a living. But more than that, we scared the hell out of people and caused a lot of anxiety and fear. At the end of the day, I can’t say I felt good about that.”
He went on to criticize Orange County law enforcement, calling them “the reality distortion club” before the video ended.
The Sheriff’s Department has responded to the video’s release, emailing the following statement to KTLA on Wednesday: “The video released today contains footage that is part of an ongoing investigation and is consistent with information OCSD has already supplied verbally to the media. We will not provide additional comment on a video narrative that seeks to make light of criminal actions.”