An Arizona man drowned in Tempe town lake while three police officers stood by, refusing to jump into the water and save him.
The victim, identified as 34-year-old Sean Bickings, was caught on a body cam video just moments before his death. He chose to swim in the water even when the officers told him not to.
The continuing events released through a transcript reveal that Bickings started struggling in the water and cried for help. "I'm not jumping in after you," one of the officers told him. Shortly afterward, the man disappeared under the water.
The events that led to the tragic outcome began on 28 May around 5 am when the three officers were dispatched to the Elmore Pedestrian Bridge in Tempe. They were to investigate a report about an argument between Bickings and a woman.
When the officers arrived at the scene, the woman, that turned out to be Bickings' wife, told them that the couple had a disagreement, but there had been no violence. She assured the police that her husband had done nothing wrong.
The officers headed over to a bench where Bickings was sitting and started checking the couple's names for any outstanding arrest warrant, which is standard protocol in such situations.
As the cam footage show, two of the officers talked to Bickings for a few minutes before he decided to climb over the low fence separating the boardwalk from the lake.
"What are you doing, my friend?" one of the officers asked.
Bickings explained that he was going for a swim while he walked down to the water.
"I'm gonna go for a swim. Isn't it true that I'm free to leave?" he said.
The officers then told him he was not allowed to swim in the lake, but Bickings dived into the water anyway and started swimming away.
"How far do you think he's going to be able to swim?" one of the officers asked as they watched him.
The remaining footage is transcribed due to being deemed sensitive, so there is no further video footage.
At that point, Bicking started to tell the officers that he was drowning, which they did not believe.
Bickings insisted that he was drowning, and he started crying for help. "OK, I'm not jumping in after you," one officer replied, while another advised him to swim to the pylon and hold on.
However, the man could not make it to the pylon, and he soon went under the water.
Bickings' wife kept begging the officer to swim into the lake and save her husband's life, but they told her to calm down and threatened to detain her if she did not stop talking. "He's drowning right in front of you, and you won't help," the woman cried.
"He's everything I got," she said. "I can't lose him, he's going to die."
The only consolation the officer gave the wife was that a boat was in its way. However, nobody tried to save Bickings, and he did not resurface from the water again.
He was recovered from the lake six hours later and pronounced dead.
The Tempe city manager, Andrew Ching, and the city's police chief, Jeff Glover, made a statement where they described Bickings' death as a tragedy.
The three police officers have now been placed on paid administrative leave while an investigation into their actions is being held.