Three Arizona police officers reportedly stood by as a man pleaded “please help me” on Saturday before he showed signs of a struggle, went under, and did not resurface, drowning in the Tempe Town Lake.
The three officers have been placed on non-disciplinary paid administrative leave, People confirmed.
Officers called to disturbance at Lake
The city of Tempe, Arizona, has just released edited body cam footage this past Friday that reveals events leading up to the drowning death of a homeless man who was trying to evade police, AZ Family reports.
On Saturday, May 28, 2022, Tempe police officers responded to a call after a Downtown Tempe Authority ambassador reported a disturbance between 34-year-old Sean Bickings and his companion at the Elmore Pedestrian Bridge, 12 News NBC reports.
The 11-minute video shows officers speaking to Bickings and a female companion on a pedestrian bridge
One officer stands with Bickings while the other two spoke to his female companion. The woman told police that repair got into an argument but insisted everything was okay, telling officers, “he didn’t do anything wrong.”
Bickings then climbs over the four-foot fence to the area leading to Tempe Town Lake.
“What are you doing my friend?” one officer asked. Bickings then climbs to the bottom, telling officers, “I’m going for a swim.”
“You can’t swim in the lake man,” another officer replies.
Bickings then jumped into the lake and swam until he was underneath the pedestrian bridge.
Man drowns in Lake as 3 cops allegedly stand by, refusing to help
As the video continues, the officers continue to discuss Bickings’ actions and steps to deal with the situation.
“How far do you think he’s going to be able to swim?” one officer asks. Another officer tells the two others to keep an eye on Bickings while he calls for a boat. An officer leans over the railing, watching Bickings swim before walking to the pedestrian bridge.
The video then stops as a yell from Bickings is heard. What happens after that is only supplied by a transcript.
“So what’s your plan right now?” An officer asks Bickings.
“I’m going to drown,” Bickings said. “I’m going to drown.”
An officer tells Bickings he’s not going to drown and instructs him to swim to the pylon. But Bickings says he can’t.
“OK, I’m not jumping in after you,” the officer replied.
Bickings continues pleading with officers to help him, according to the transcript.
The woman attempted to get involved, pleading with the police to save Bickings, and saying that she loves him. She continues pleading to police to help Bickings to no avail, then tries to jump over the railing to go to his rescue, but police stop her. The officers told her an officer is getting a boat.
“I’m just distraught because he’s drowning right in front of you and you won’t help,” the woman tells officers.
One officer says Bickings hasn’t resurfaced for about 30 seconds. The woman then continues crying for Bickings. She tells the officers, “he’s drowning down there.”
The officers tell her, “Susan, stop talking.” The woman began pleading more frantically: “He’s going to die.”
“My husband is dying in the water right now,” the woman says. “I love him.”
“Okay, I understand,” The officer replied, then said “OK” again twice, and the transcript ended.