Last month, Sean Bickings, 34, pleaded for Arizona officers to help him when he was drowning in a lake. The officers said they weren’t jumping in after him, according to NBC News. Bickings’ body wasn’t recovered until six hours later. Tempe City has released body camera footage of the incident and the responding officers have been placed on administrative leave.
The footage was about 12 minutes long and showed the moments leading up to Bickings’ death. Per the city’s statement, the police responded to a disturbance between Bickings and a woman near the city’s Center for the Arts. When the officers ran the pair’s names in their database, Bickings climbed over a nearby fence and began swimming across the lake. Officers informed him swimming was not allowed in the lake.
Tempe City officials said he went about 30 to 40 yards before he signaled that he needed help.
More on the body cam footage from NBC News:
Bickings responds: “I’m going to drown. I’m going to drown.”
The same officer then says, “No, you’re not.”
According to the transcript, another officer tells Bickings to “go to the pylon and hold on” before he tells Bickings he is not jumping in after him.
Bickings then says: “Please help me. Please, please, please.” He also says: “I can’t touch. Oh, God. Please help me. Help me.”
Bickings’ female companion is quoted telling officers Bickings is drowning. She also says: “He’s everything I got. I can’t lose him. He’s going to die.”
An officer then says, “The other officer is going to get the boat,” according to the transcript.
According to NBC affiliate KPNX, Bickings’ body was pulled from the lake six hours later. The city’s police union issued a statement after the footage was released explaining that officers were not trained for water rescues and didn’t have the equipment to help a drowning person.
However, per the city’s statement, the three officers involved will be investigated for their response to the situation by the Arizona Department of Public Safety and Scottsdale Police Department. Also, they have been placed on non-disciplinary paid leave.
City Manager Andrew Ching and Police Chief Jeff Glover called the drowning a “tragedy.”