A homeless man in Arizona was denied help by nearby officers as he drowned in a lake, NBC News reports.
On May 28, Sean Bickings drowned in Tempe Town Lake. Prior to his death, the 34-year-old pleaded with officers for help.
“I’m going to drown,” said Bickings.
“Okay, I’m not jumping in after you,” said the officer as Bickings repeatedly asked for assistance.
Reports also reveal that Bickings was told not to swim in the lake.
“Officers informed him swimming is not allowed in the lake,” said city officials. “He swam about 30 to 40 yards before repeatedly indicating he was in distress. He soon went under and did not resurface.”
According to a statement released on Friday (June 3), both Tempe City Manager Andrew Ching and Police Chief Jeff Glover believe the death is a “tragedy.”
The city’s police union, the Tempe Officers Association, issued a statement on Monday (June 6) stating that its “grief mirrors our community’s grief.” The union also said that “no one wanted this incident to end as it did.”
“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,” the group continued in the statement. “Officers are trained to call the fire department … or get the Tempe Police boat. That is what officers did here.”
Three of the responding officers, who have not been identified, have all been placed on a paid non-disciplinary administrative leave.