Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images
A Drowning black man begged officers to save him and footage of the incident appears to show officers refused to help.
Sean Bickings, 34, was found dead in Tempe Town LakeArizona, May 28.
He climbed over a fence and entered the water while officers conducted a background check, according to Tempe city officials.
The officers had been called to the scene shortly after 5 a.m. that morning amid reports of unrest involving a couple, NBC News reported.
The couple denied having an argument and were not taken into custody, but officers ran their names through a database to see if they had outstanding warrants.
Bickings then jumped a metal fence and was told swimming in the lake was not allowed.
The Police revealed that the man swam about 30 to 40 yards before claiming that he was in danger.
He told the officers that he was going to drown, but one replied: “No, you’re not going to drown”.
An officer also said they were not going to jump into the lake to help Bickings, according to a police transcript.
Bickings continued to call for help as officers urged him to swim toward the tower.
A witness, identified as Susan, Bickings’ wife, said, according to a police transcript: “My God, are you okay? Stop, why are you doing this?”
The cops urged her to talk to Bickings so he could get back to safety.
Susan replied, “I tried, I tried, that’s why I was going there. I just saw him in the water asking for help.”
Then he yelled, “Baby, baby. She’s drowning, she’s drowning
“I am distressed because he is drowning in front of you and they are not helping me.”
Susan said: “He is all I have. I can’t lose him, he’s going to die.”
Rescuers from the fire department team recovered his body and he was pronounced dead around 11:30 am local time.
Officials confirmed that the three responding officers were placed on routine paid administrative leave.
The Tempe Officers Association said, “Nobody wanted this incident to end the way it did.”
The representatives affirmed that the police officers do not receive training in aquatic rescues.
The union also said officers don’t have the necessary equipment to help drowning people.
Tempe City Manager Andrew Ching described Bickings’ death as a tragedy.
Officials have urged the Department of Public Safety and Scottsdale Police to examine the police response.