Pictures and text released by authorities in the US state of Arizona on Monday shed light on this apparently avoidable tragedy. Called at dawn on May 28 near a man-made lake in Tempe, Arizona, over an “argument” caused by a married couple, local police officers first questioned Shaun Pickings’ partner, 34, before moving toward the latter.
After a few minutes, Shawn Pickings steps on the guardrail that separates him from the lake and descends to the surface of the water. Clients tell him he is not allowed to swim in the lake, but the 30-year-old begins swimming the same way toward an area under the bridge.
The scene was filmed but the photos were then interrupted, and the city judged the rest of the video to be too “delicate,” providing copies only of the comments made. “what will you do now what do you do now?” asks the agent. “I will drown. I will drown,” says Shawn Pickings. “No, no,” the agent replies. A second policeman then asks the doomed man to swim to the bridge gate and hold onto him.
“I will not jump after you”
“I can’t, I can’t,” Shawn Pickings cried. The second agent says, “Okay, I’m not going to jump after you.” According to the rest of the transcript, the officers continued to insist that the homeless man defend himself, while rejecting his partner’s attempts to seek help.
“Can you hear me?” are the last words attributed to Shawn Pickings. Later, an officer noted that he “hasn’t surfaced in about 30 seconds.”
His body will be recovered at the end of the morning. The city, which announced its intention to publish body camera images of other officers, in the coming days, said that the three police officers had been suspended from work pending the results of several investigations launched by the authorities.
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