Mourners gather at funeral service for Cocoa drowning victim

Teens filmed, mocked man's drowning

Jamel Dunn
Jamel Dunn

COCOA, Fla. – More than 200 people filled the pews at Zion Orthodox Primitive Baptist Church in Cocoa on Saturday for the funeral services for Jamel Dunn, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

The 31-year-old Cocoa resident died July 9, when he drowned in a pond in Cocoa.

His death received international attention this month, after it was discovered that a group of five teens, ages 14 to 18, videotaped the drowning, while mocking him and cursing, but did not call 911 or do anything else to help him. The video later was posted on social media. Dunn's body was found on July 14.

Pastor Jarvis Wash, who officiated at Dunn's service, briefly discussed the circumstances of Dunn's death, expressing what many in attendance likely were thinking, according to Florida Today.

Wash said he couldn't understand how the teens could videotape the drowning in progress while Dunn was pleading for help, but did nothing to help him.

"We were lost and confused," Wash said, in tying in his words of comfort during the service to a biblical message.

Wash, who is pastor at The Real Church in Cocoa, encouraged those attending the service to "get a relationship with God" if they do not have one.

"We're moving too fast," Wash said. "We need to slow down and listen."

In a message to the community contained in the funeral program, the Dunn family wrote: "Words alone aren't enough to fully convey our gratitude to the many concerned, known and unknown, supporters of the Dunn family. Our fight has just begun, and we will do all we can to assist other families who experience the tragedy of such a loss. May God bless your kindness."

In addition to the traditional black, many of the mourners wore red, at the request of the family. Some wore shirts printed with photos of Dunn, Florida Today reported.

Dunn's red casket that was in the front of the church worship area during the service was flanked by two large photos of Dunn — one of him wearing a graduation cap-and-gown, the other more informal.

The program described Dunn as a "family-oriented" person who "loved to clown and crack jokes."

"He had a strong desire for success, and was always willing to undertake new and daring enterprises," the program said.

Dunn is survived by two children, Jamyah Dunn and Zaharah Brookens; his mother, Gloria Dunn; his father, Maurice Bush; two sisters, Simone McIntosh and Cierra McIntosh; two brothers, Martell Dunn and Rafeal Dunn; his fiancee, RonDanelle Williams; nine aunts; and eight uncles, according to Florida Today.

Burial was in Riverview Memorial Gardens in Cocoa.

Lewis-Ray Mortuary of Titusville was in charge of arrangements.

On July 17, Dunn's sister, Simone McIntosh, started a GoFundMe fund-raising campaign to help Dunn's children and pay for funeral expenses. The campaign has raised $36,928 from 1,262 donors in 12 days.

In her posting, McIntosh wrote: "Jamel Dunn left behind two daughters, ages 11 and 6. School is around the corner, and we also want to be able to help the single mothers with funds for the children, being that school is around the corner, and other needs for them they may acquire as well."

She also is seeking a new state law to address situations like what occurred with her brother. She calls it "Dunn's Right Duty to Act," according to Florida Today.

"If someone needs help and is in distress, as human beings, we should be obligated to pick up the phone and call 911 to save a life, even if the call is anonymous," McIntosh wrote on a separate GoFundMe page. "If you can sit and watch someone die, and laugh, mock and joke about it, you should be charged with something."

Cocoa police have asked the state attorney's office to consider filing criminal charges against the five teens, under an existing state law related to not reporting a death. The state attorney's office is reviewing that request.