Authorities investigating drowning death of man in Tempe Town Lake

Jun 6, 2022, 8:28 PM | Updated: 8:39 pm

Sean Bickings (Courtesy Photo)...

Sean Bickings (Courtesy Photo)

(Courtesy Photo)

PHOENIX — An investigation is underway for the drowning death of a homeless man who allegedly jumped into Tempe Town Lake while fleeing police last month, authorities said Monday.

Sean Bickings, 34, on May 28 was talking with Tempe police officers who responded to Tempe Beach Park near Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway regarding an alleged fight between him and a companion, authorities said in a press release.

Bickings, who was not handcuffed, allegedly decided to climb over a 4-foot metal fence and entered the lake while police conducted a background check that found three outstanding warrants.

The city released edited body camera footage from one officer who responded to the incident and a transcript [WARNING: LANGUAGE]. 

Bickings told police he was drowning and begged for help, according to the transcript.

Officers asked Bickings to swim over to a pylon but the man said he couldn’t, according to the transcript.

An officer at one point told Bickings, “I am not jumping in after you,” according to the transcript.

A person identified in the transcript as a witness pleaded with officers and allegedly tried to jump over the railing.

Bickings went underwater and didn’t resurface. He was found hours later by a rescue team and was pronounced dead at the scene.

City Manager Andrew Ching and Police Chief Jeff Glover called Bickings’ death a tragedy, according to the release.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety will review Tempe’s investigation of Bickings’ death, the city said, and the Scottsdale Police Department is also beginning an administrative review of the critical incident.

The investigations will take multiple weeks, according to the release.

Tempe police and the city are also examining water response protocols and equipment needs for officers around bodies of water, according to the release.

The three Tempe officers who responded to the call have been placed on non-disciplinary paid administrative leave pending the investigations, which is customary in critical incidents, the city said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

File photo of Border Patrol agent in Arizona...

Damon Allred

Former U.S. border patrol agent sentenced to 18 years in prison for bribery and drug smuggling

A Buckeye man who served as a United States border patrol agent was sentenced to 18 years in prison and five years of supervised release.

7 hours ago

Phoenix Rescue Mission...

Phoenix Rescue Mission readies annual heat relief campaign

With the summer heat nearing, Phoenix Rescue Mission is launching its annual heat relief campaign to assist unhoused and at-risk individuals.

9 hours ago

(AP Photo)...

Northbound Loop 101 on-ramp at Shea Boulevard to close for 2 months

The northbound Loop 101 on-ramp at Shea Boulevard in Scottsdale is scheduled to be closed for approximately 60 days, starting Monday.

11 hours ago

Hildale, Utah, is pictured sitting at the base of Red Rock Cliff mountains, with its sister city, C...

Associated Press

Guilty plea by leader of polygamous sect near the Arizona-Utah border is at risk of being thrown out

A guilty plea by the leader of an offshoot polygamous sect near the Arizona-Utah border is at risk of being thrown out.

13 hours ago

Picture of the Mitsubishi Montero that Phoenix police suspect hit an 11-year-old girl in a crosswal...

Damon Allred

Hit-and-run suspect sought in Phoenix after injuring child walking in crosswalk

Officers are searching for a hit-and-run suspect who hit an 11-year-old girl walking in a school crosswalk on Friday, Phoenix PD said.

16 hours ago

(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...

2 men die, another critically injured in south Phoenix shooting

Detectives are investigating a shooting that left two dead and another seriously injured in south Phoenix, police said.

18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.



Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Authorities investigating drowning death of man in Tempe Town Lake