Posted on June 12, 2022

Arizona Police Release Edited Bodycam Footage of Man Before Tempe Lake Drowning

Laura Daniella Sepulveda, Arizona Republic, June 6, 2022

Three police officers in Arizona are on administrative leave amid an investigation into their response after a man jumped into a lake and drowned last month {snip}

According to a transcript of the footage provided by the city, Sean Bickings, 34, told police in Tempe, Arizona, he was drowning and begged officers for help. Authorities said Bickings, whom city officials described as an “unsheltered” member of the Tempe community, apparently jumped into the lake in an attempt to evade police after officials did a background check and found three outstanding warrants.


An original statement from the Tempe Police Department said officers responded to reports of a verbal domestic confrontation on May 28 around 5 a.m. involving a man and a woman. {snip}

{snip} Footage later showed Bickings going over a fence and walking into the lake as he tells police: “I am going for a swim. I am free to, right?”

According to Tempe officials, Bickings began begging for help after he swam 90 to 120 feet into the lake, indicating he was in distress.


The transcript adds that police told Bickings to swim and hold onto a pylon. One officer reportedly told Bickings: “I am not jumping in after you.”


Jamaar Williams, an activist with Black Lives Matter in metro Phoenix, said “there is no question” the incident involved police violence from the Tempe officers. {snip}

{snip} “Police don’t actually have to be exercising that violence to cause that reaction, which is fear, panic and self-survival.”