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Man Drowned While Police Watched After They Refused To Jump In To Save Him

Rachel Lang

Published 
| Last updated 

Man Drowned While Police Watched After They Refused To Jump In To Save Him

Sean Pickings begged police officers for help as he struggled to keep his head above water in an Arizona reservoir.

But new footage and transcript of body-camera tapes show that police stood by without intervening as he went underwater and did not come back up.

According to the transcript of the May 28 incident, Bickings said to police 'I’m going to drown, I’m going to drown'.

A police officer, identified as Officer One in the transcript, then replied: “Okay, I’m not jumping in after you."

The police officer then directed Bickings, 34, to grab onto a nearby bridge.

“Please help me,” Bickings said, according to the transcript.

“Please, please, please.”

Bickings went underwater after, as his wife begged officers to spring into action.

“I’m just distraught because he’s drowning right in front of you and you won’t help,” Bickings’s partner said, as per the transcript.

He drowned shortly after. 

Three police officers from Tempe, Arizona, have now been put on 'non-disciplinary paid administrative leave', according to the Washington Post.

Police were initially called to the scene following reports of a domestic violence situation at Tempe Beach Park between Bickings and his wife.

The two denied any fight had taken place.

According to Fox10, when police arrived the 34-year-old man tried to flee police by jumping into the lake where he eventually drowned.

He was later pronounced dead when he was found by Tempe Fire's Dive and Rescue team.

In a public statement, City Manager Andrew Ching and Police Chief Jeff Glover described Bickings' death as a 'tragedy'.

In the statement, Bickings was described as an 'unsheltered' man.

"When officers arrived, they spoke to Bickings and his companion, who cooperated fully and denied that any physical argument had taken place," the statement said.

"Neither were being detained for any offence. Officers told the couple they were running their names through a database used to check whether people have outstanding arrest warrants; this is a standard procedure."

The city statement then said that the 34-year-old 'decided to slowly climb' over a 1.2 metre high fence and then jumped in the water.

The statement added: "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."

The Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Scottsdale Police Department have now launched an investigation into the incident.

Names of the police involved have not been made public.

Featured Image Credit: YouTube/Fox10.

Topics: News, US News, Crime

Rachel Lang
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