TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — Edited body-cam video and a transcript released by police paint a better picture of what led up to a man drowning at Tempe Town Lake on Saturday. The 11-minute video shows officers talking to Sean Bickings and another woman before he jumps into the water. However, the video cuts out before Bickings is heard struggling in the lake so police provided a transcript of what happened next, including an officer saying he wasn’t going to jump in as Bickings calls for help.
The video starts with Bickings is sitting on a bench near the Tempe City of the Arts. One officer stays with Bickings, while two others go toward a woman who says claims to be Bickings’ wife. The woman tells police she and Bickings got into an argument but insists to them everything is OK. “He didn’t do anything wrong,” she said to officers.
Both officers then walk back to Bickings, questioning where he and the woman live. Bickings told them that the two live in the surrounding area. He then stands up and looks over the railing to the lake. Suddenly, he says, “sorry guys,” and climbs over the bar. “What are you doing my friend?” asked one officer. Bickings then climbs to the bottom and tells officers, “I’m going for a swim.” Another officer replies, “You can’t swim in the lake man.” Bickings then jumps into the lake and swims until he’s underneath the pedestrian bridge.
“How far do you think he’s going to be able to swim?” asks one officer in the video. The other officer says to keep an eye on Bickings while he calls for a boat. The officer then leans over the railing, watching Bickings swim before walking to the pedestrian bridge. The video then stops as a yell from Bickings is heard.
The transcript picks up where the video left off. An officer asks Bickings, “So what’s your plan right now?” “”I’m going to drown. I’m going to drown,” Bickings later said. An officer says he’s not going to drown and tells him to swim to the pylon. Bickings says he can’t, and the officer replies, “OK, I’m not jumping in after you.” Bickings continues asking officers to help him, according to the transcript. The woman then gets involved, telling the police to save him and that she loves him. She continues telling police to help him before trying to jump over the railing, but police stop her. Police also tell her an officer is getting a boat.
“I’m just distraught because he’s drowning right in front of you and you won’t help,” said the woman. One officer then says Bickings hasn’t come up for about 30 seconds. The woman then continues crying for Bickings. The officer replied with two OK’s and the transcript ends.
Police say just before 11:30 a.m., Bickings was pulled out of the water by Tempe’s Fire dive and rescue team and pronounced dead.