'I'm not jumping in after you': SHOCKING video shows cops look on as man drowns in Arizona lake
Bickings, 43, climbed over the four-foot fence and went for a swim, after which he yelled for help, but the officers refused to jump in to rescue him
Sean Bickings, a 43-year-old homeless man, drowned to death in a lake while Arizona police officers stood by and ignored his pleas for help. As per the bodycam footage, officers responded to a disturbance between a couple near the Elmore Pedestrian Bridge in Tempe on Saturday, May 28.
Bickings and his wife denied any physical altercation, but when the officers told the couple they were checking to see if either had any outstanding arrest warrants, Bickings climbed over a four-foot fence and said, "I'm gonna go for a swim. I'm free to go right?" before jumping into the lake. While Bickings swims further, an officer can be heard asking, "How far do you think he is going to be able to swim?"
Tempe police didn't release the video of the drowning stating that it was too sensitive, and instead provided a transcript of the footage, as per 12 News. "I'm drowning," Bickings reportedly said. "Come back over to the pylon," an officer replied. "I can't. I can't," the man said, as per the transcript. "Okay, I'm not jumping in after you," an officer responded. "Please help me. Please, please, please. I can't touch. Oh God, Please help me. Help me," Bickings reportedly yelled.
"I'm just distraught because he's drowning right in front of you and you won't help," Bickings' wife told the police. One of the officers then threatened to put her in his police car if she didn't calm down. One officer reportedly attempted to get a boat to rescue Bickings, but it was too late. He went under the water's surface and never resurfaced.
Cops stood by in Arizona and watched a man named Sean Bickings drown, and threatened to arrest his distraught wife begging for help. pic.twitter.com/tx7Mvpzby4— 🅹🅾️🅴🆈աrecκ ☭ (@joeywreck) June 6, 2022
Nearly six hours later, Bicking's body was pulled from the lake. The three officers who responded to the call and witnessed the drowning have been placed on paid administrative leave, as per 12 News. "At that point, the officers don't really have a reason to be there. In reality, law enforcement did not have the authority to detain him," said Andy Anderson, former assistant chief with Phoenix Police.
As per the official statement, "When officers arrived, they spoke to Bickings and his companion, who cooperated fully and denied that any physical argument had taken place. Neither were being detained for any offense. That check had not yet been completed when Bickings decided to slowly climb over a 4-foot metal fence and enter the water. Officers informed him swimming is not allowed in the lake. He swam about 30-40 yards before repeatedly indicating he was in distress. He soon went under and did not resurface," reports Fox 10.
Oh my god! Tempe cops watched this man drown and did nothing but threaten to detain his wife as she begged for help.— AZ Right Wing Watch (@az_rww) June 5, 2022
“The rest of the document reveals how his wife continued to beg them for help while the officers continued to tell her to calm down.”
His name was Sean Bickings. https://t.co/Y5LC8kLen3 pic.twitter.com/6uiUmwPYmr
"This is not a lake patrol team that has the equipment to do a water rescue, these are street cops. I think it's heartbreaking, it's a tragic situation. It's awful," he added. Tempe Police began searching for the man and his body was pulled from the lake at around 11:20 am, as per officials. Scottsdale police and the department of public safety are investigating the incident and the steps police officers did and did not take.