Prosecutors get paperwork on teens accused of filming Cocoa man's drowning

Teens never reported man's death to police, authorities say

Jamel Dunn
Jamel Dunn

COCOA, Fla. – Cocoa police turned over paperwork on Wednesday that could lead to the Brevard County state attorney’s office filing charges against the teens who watched, filmed and laughed as a disabled man drowned in a pond.

Detectives finalized documents this week asking that the teens – who did not attempt to rescue or call police as the man screamed for help –  be charged with misdemeanor counts of failure to report a death in the July 9 drowning death of 32-year-old Jamel Dunn of Cocoa. 

“Detectives completed the report but have to make a few changes. Once that’s done it will be sent over to the state attorney’s office,” Yvonne Martinez, spokeswoman for the Cocoa Police Department, told News 6 partner Florida Today shortly before the paperwork was turned over.

There were five teens ages 14 to 18. The case prompted a national outcry after a cellphone video recorded by one of the teens turned up on social media. After audio from the video was published online by FLORIDA TODAY, police and the state attorney’s office initially said that the teens could not be charged for failing to help Dunn as he struggled in the water. That message, however, changed as investigators searched through Florida statutes for other possible charges.

Cocoa police chief Cantaloupe met with State Attorney Phil Archer last week to discuss the case and the possibility of pursuing a misdemeanor charge. The statute outlining failure to report a death violations requires that 'any person' who becomes aware of a death to report it to the medical examiner. A conviction on the charge for an adult could lead up to a year in county jail along with a fine, while juveniles would be routed before a juvenile judge who would determine if the teens were delinquent before handing down a sentence.

The video shows Dunn in the water as the teens curse, mock and laugh. The teens did not report the incident to anyone, police reported.

Dunn’s family set up a GoFundMe page that has raised $36,000 in nine days. The money, say family members, will go toward covering Dunn’s funeral costs. Dunn had no life insurance. He leaves behind two daughters, ages 11 and 6-years-old. The funeral will take place 2 p.m. Saturday at Zion Orthodox Baptist Church, 715 Fiske Blvd., Cocoa.