According to NBC News, three Tempe Police officers were placed on administrative leave following the release of a transcript that accompanied edited bodycam footage of the officers dealing with a man who jumped into a lake and drowned.
The homeless Arizona man, Sean Bickings, 34, drowned in Tempe Town Lake. A transcript that revealed the conversation that was had just prior to the tragedy includes one officer making crystal clear that should Bickings jump, he would not jump in to save the man should he begin to drown.
The NBC News report noted: “In one part of the transcript, which the city released to supplement the video of Bickings’ drowning, an officer, who was not identified, tells Bickings, ‘OK, I’m not jumping in after you,’ after Bickings had said several times that he was drowning.”
Other reports noted that Bickings’ wife was screaming for the offices to save her drowning husband.
“Three police have been placed on administrative leave after they reportedly watched as a man drowned.” As the man’s wife screamed for them to help, they threatened her: “If you don’t calm down, I’m going to put you in my car.” Uvalde is not an anomaly. https://t.co/VvVwpOUa2m
— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) June 5, 2022
A police union representing the officers released a statement making clear that Tempe officers do not receive water rescue training, nor do they carry equipment that could assist in saving someone who’s drowning.
“Attempting such a high-risk rescue could easily result in the death of the person in the water and the officer, who could be pulled down by a struggling adult,” a rep from the Tempe Officers Association said.
They added: “Officers are trained to call the Fire Department … or get the Tempe Police boat. That is what officers did here.”
On social media, critics of the officers inserted race into the issue, claiming the officers would have acted differently had it been a white person drowning.