Arizona cops told drowning man ‘I’m not jumping in after you’ as he begged for help, body camera transcript shows

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Tempe police body camera footage shows Sean Bickings moments before he jumped into an Arizona lake and drowned.

Tempe police body camera footage shows Sean Bickings moments before he jumped into an Arizona lake and drowned.City of Tempe, Arizona

  • A man who drowned in an Arizona lake last month begged for help — but local cops didn’t rescue him.

  • “I’m not jumping in after you,” one cop told Sean Bickings before he drowned, according to a police transcript.

  • The three Tempe police officers who didn’t step in were put on paid leave as authorities investigate.

A man drowned in an Arizona lake last month and as he pleaded for help, struggling in the water, local cops standing by refused to rescue him, according to officials and a police body camera footage transcript.

“I’m drowning,” Sean Bickings, 34, told Tempe Police Department officers during the May 28 incident at Tempe Town Lake, according to a video transcript released by the city and reviewed by Insider.

One officer responded to Bickings, “Okay, I’m not jumping in after you,” moments after another cop instructed Bickings to head over to a pylon, the transcript shows.

“Please help me. Please, please please,” Bickings pleaded, according to the transcript. “I can’t touch. Oh God. Please help me. Help me.”

Bickings, whom city officials described as an “unsheltered Tempe community member,” ultimately drowned after he jumped into the lake but wasn’t able to swim.

Tempe police referred Insider to the city when asked for their response to the incident. In a statement, Tempe City Manager Andrew Ching and Police Chief Jeff Glover called Bickings’ death “a tragedy.”

Police body camera footage released by the city shows what led up to the moments before Bickings jumped into the water.

Tempe cops were called to the scene just after 5 a.m. on May 28 about a reported dispute between Bickings and a woman who identified herself to cops as his wife, officials said.

When officers arrived, they spoke to Bickings and the woman, who officials say cooperated with police and denied that any physical confrontation had taken place.

“He didn’t do nothing wrong. We have a bad habit of interrupting each other sometimes,” the woman told cops, according to the police body camera video.

Officials say that Bickings climbed over a 4-foot metal fence and jumped into the water as cops were running the couple’s names through a database to check on any outstanding arrest warrants as part of standard procedure.

“Neither were being detained for any offense,” the city said of the couple.

Seconds before Bickings jumped into the water he said to the officers, “I’m gonna go for a swim … I’m free to go, right?” the body camera video shows.

Tempe police body camera video shows officers speaking to Sean Bickings moments before he jumped into an Arizona lake and drowned.Tempe police body camera video shows officers speaking to Sean Bickings moments before he jumped into an Arizona lake and drowned.

Tempe police body camera video shows officers speaking to Sean Bickings moments before he jumped into an Arizona lake and drowned.City of Tempe, Arizona

The officers told Bickings that he was not allowed to swim in the lake. “How far do you think he’s going to be able to swim?” one officer asked, the footage shows.

Shortly after, an officer could be heard radioing that the “subject” had jumped into the lake.

The actual drowning was not included in the video footage released by police and instead, a disclaimer was shown on the video before it ended: “Due to the sensitive nature of the remaining portion of the recording, a transcript of the sensitive portion of the event is being provided for full transparency.”

Moments after Bickings went into the water, a cop asked him, “So what’s your plan right now?”

“I’m going to drown,” Bickings began saying. “I’m going to drown.”

During the ordeal, police and Bickings’ apparent wife argued, with her saying at one point, “I’m just distraught because he’s drowning right in front of you and you won’t help,” according to the transcript.

Earlier in the transcript, a cop said to the woman: “If you want to help your husband, then talk to your husband, talk to your husband into coming over.”

At one point, two different officers said that another officer is “going to get the boat,” the transcript says.

According to the city, Bickings “swam about 30-40 yards before repeatedly indicating he was in distress. He soon went under and did not resurface.”

The three Tempe police officers who didn’t step in to save the drowning man were put on paid leave as the Arizona Department of Public Safety and Scottsdale Police investigate the officers’ actions, the city said in a statement last Friday.

Read the original article on Insider