Police Stood By While A Man Drowned In Arizona & They Refused His Calls For Help

"OK, I'm not jumping in after you."

Global Staff Writer
Sean Bickings. Right: Sean Bickings sitting on the edge of the rail.

Sean Bickings. Right: Sean Bickings sitting on the edge of the rail.

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An Arizona man drowned last month in the city of Tempe, even as police officers stood by and shrugged off his calls for help.

Sean Bickings, 34, died in Tempe Town Lake on May 28, after repeatedly shouting "I'm going to drown!" to the officers on shore, documents and video released by the city show.

Bodycam footage released by the city shows Bickings talking to police just before he "voluntarily" went into the water, and he was not handcuffed at the time, the city said in a statement.

The video shows everything from the police first showing up to Bickings getting into the lake and swimming away, but the part where he drowns was released separately as a transcript.

According to the city of Tempe, the police were responding to a call about a physical disturbance between a couple just after 5 a.m.

In the video, the police can be seen approaching Bickings' partner and questioning her.

"Did you guys get into a physical confrontation?" the police asked, to which she responded, "No, nothing like that."

After speaking to the woman, they approached Bickings and chatted with him while checking his record. Neither of them were detained at the time.

After about four minutes of speaking with the officers, Bickings went over the rail around the lake and said: "I'm going to go for a swim."

The officers told him that wasn't allowed but they didn't move to stop him.

"How far do you think he's going to be able to swim?" one officer says in the video.

"He swam about 30-40 yards before repeatedly indicating he was in distress. He soon went under and did not resurface," the city indicated in its statement.

The body cam footage shows up to the moment when Bickings swam under a bridge. The transcript picks up moments later with the point when he starts to drown.

"So what's your plan right now?" an officer says in the transcript.

"I'm going to drown. I'm going to drown," Bickings said.

"No, you're not," the officer said. He then told Bickings to "go to a pylon and hold on."

Bickings then said: "I'm drowning... I can't. I can't."

"OK, I'm not jumping in after you," responded the officer.

Bickings continued to beg the officers for help, saying, "Oh God, please help me," over and over.

Meanwhile, the transcript shows his partner trying to step in.

"He didn't do nothing wrong. Babe," she said.

"We didn't say he did anything wrong," one officer said.

"Get off the bridge," said the other.

"You need to chill out," said the first officer.

Bickings did not speak again on the transcript, and by the time police got a boat to investigate, he had already drowned.

Bickings' body was eventually recovered from the lake.

City officials are describing it as a "tragedy" in their statement, and they say they're investigating.

The three officers who stood by have now been placed on non-disciplinary paid administrative leave as they wait for the investigation.

Sameen Chaudhry
Global Staff Writer
Sameen Chaudhry was a Staff Writer for Narcity’s Global Desk focused on TikTok drama and based in Toronto, Ontario.