TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Body cam video showed the moments before an unhoused man drowned in an Arizona lake while police stood by, according to reports.
NBC affiliate 12 News reported that the city of Tempe released the video of the incident where a man jumped into the Tempe Town Lake to avoid the police.
The report said police encountered Sean Bickings, 34, and his wife just after 5 a.m. on May 28 after a reported disturbance. When police arrived, the pair denied having a physical argument and cooperated with them.
When officers ran their names to check their database, Bickings climbed over the railing on the lake and walked into the water.
“What are you doing?” one officer asked.
“Going for a swim. I’m free to go, right?” Bickings is heard saying.
Despite being told not to go into the lake, Bickings continued. It did not take long for Bickings to need help.
The video did not show the drowning, but a transcript released by Tempe police showed that Bickings asked police to help him, according to 12 News’ report.
Part of the transcript goes as follows.
Bickings: I’m drowning. (inaudible)
Officer 2: Come back over to the pylon
Bickings: I can’t. I can’t. (inaudible)
Officer 1: Okay, I’m not jumping in after you.
Victim: (inaudible) Please help me. Please, please, please.
12 News said at least one officer tried to get a boat, but it was not known if a water rescue team worked that morning. Eventually, the man went underwater and did not come up.
Bickings’ wife confronted officers over their inaction, saying, “he’s drowning right in front of you and you won’t help.”
Bickings body was found later that morning by Tempe Fire Rescue at 11:20 a.m.
The incident is under investigation. The officers who watched the man drown were placed on administrative leave.