Teens recorded, mocked drowning man, Cocoa police say
Group likely won't face charges, police say
COCOA, Fla. – UPDATE: Cocoa police Chief Mike Cantaloupe said his office will be recommending that the State Attorney's Office charge the boys with a misdemeanor. Click here to read more.
Police said a group of teens recorded the dying moments of a 32-year-old man last week, mocking, cursing and laughing as the man drowned in a pond.
The minute-long video, which police called "extremely disturbing," found its way to social media and appears to depict the unidentified teens, ages 14 to 16, off-camera, laughing as the man screamed for help before going under in the murky water just after noon July 9 off Plaza Parkway.
News 6 decided not to broadcast the video but multiple people can be heard shouting, "get out of the water, you're going to die."
Police later found the badly decomposed body of the man, identified as Jamel Dunn, July 12. Police said the man drowned and foul play was not suspected.
“They were telling him they weren’t going in after him and that, 'You shouldn’t have gone in there,’” Cocoa police spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez told News 6 partner Florida Today. “He started to struggle and scream for help and they just laughed. They didn’t call the police. They just laughed the whole time. He was just screaming ... for someone to help him.”
The teens were identified and questioned by detectives, but will likely not face charges because they were not directly involved, police said.
“There was no remorse, only a smirk,” Martinez said.
She added that there's no legal requirement for bystanders to help a person in need.
The case was also reviewed by the State Attorney’s Office.
"While the incident depicted on the recording does not give rise to sufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution under Florida statutes, we can find no moral justification for either the behavior of persons heard on the recording or the deliberate decision not to render aid to Mr. Dunn," the State Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Police said Dunn turned up at the pond after an argument with his fiancée about 10 to 15 minutes before the incident.
“The kids were at the park that day smoking marijuana and apparently saw him walk into the water. He walked in on his own. They were watching him,” Martinez said.
Dunn waded into the water from the west side as the teens watched from the south side of the pond.
“They just started recording what happened and watched until he died,” Martinez said. “Everybody is just horrified by this.”
Dunn's family has created a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral expenses.
The Cocoa Police Department released a statement about the video Thursday evening:
On Friday, July 14th our officers responded to the southern pond at Bracco Park for a report of a body found floating close to the edge of the pond. The medical examiner determined the cause of death was drowning. The victim was identified as Jamel Dunn, 31, of Cocoa. Further investigation revealed a group of teens recorded video of the incident. The video was brought to our attention this past weekend. Our detectives reviewed the video. The five juveniles who recorded the incident were identified and interviewed. The State Attorney’s Office was consulted regarding what, if any criminal charges could be applied in this incident. As horrible as this video is the laws in the State of Florida do not obligate citizens to render aid or call someone to render aid to a person in distress. We are all affected by what was captured on the video. There are no words to describe how utterly inhumane and cruel the actions of these juveniles were towards Mr. Dunn.
I want to express my deepest condolences to Mr. Dunn’s family and friends. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding his decision to enter the water that day, there is absolutely no justification for what the juveniles did. As law enforcement officers we are sworn to uphold and enforce the laws. Unfortunately there are no laws in Florida that apply to this scenario. Perhaps this case may be what’s needed to pass new laws. As chief of police there are times when I wish I could do more. But I’m a firm believer in that good will always win over evil. It may not come in our life time, but there will be justice.
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