A homeless man drowned in the United States in front of police officers who refused to intervene, according to images and a transcript released Monday (June 6) by authorities.
Called out on May 28 at dawn near an artificial lake in Tempe, Arizona, due to “uproar” provoked by a couple, the agents first question the companion of Sean Bickings, 34, before heading towards the latter, a “homeless person” according to the press release from the city, to question him in turn. After a few minutes, Sean Bickings steps over the railing that separates him from the lake and descends to the surface of the water. The agents tell him that he is not allowed to swim in the lake, but the 30-year-old still starts swimming towards an area under a bridge.
The footage then cuts off, with the city deeming the rest of the video too “sensitive”then providing a transcript of what was said. “What are you going to do now?”asks an agent. “I am going to drown. I am going to drown”says Sean Bickings, according to the transcript. “But no”, answers the agent. A second policeman then asks the man in distress to swim to the pylon of the bridge and hang on to it. “I can’t, I can’t”says Sean Bickings. “Okay, I’m not going to jump after you”launches the second agent.
According to the rest of the transcript, the officers continue to insist that the homeless man fend for himself, while rebuffing his partner’s efforts to beg them for help. “You hear me?” are the last words attributed to Sean Bickings. Later, one of the policemen notes that he “has not surfaced for approximately 30 seconds”. His body will be fished out at the end of the morning. The three police officers have been suspended pending the results of several investigations launched by the authorities, said the city, which announced its intention to make public the images of the pedestrian cameras of the other officers in the coming days.