Police Chief Recommends Charges Against Fla. Teens Who Laughed While Man Drowned

Jamel Dunn (GoFundMe)
Jamel Dunn (GoFundMe)

We all know that you can’t legislate decency in this country, but perhaps there will be some semblance of justice for a man who was recorded while drowning—not only recorded but taunted—by five Florida teenagers.


Cocoa, Fla., Police Chief Michael Cantaloupe said Friday that he will recommend the state attorney prosecute the teens under a statute that requires a person with knowledge of a death to notify a medical examiner, CNN reports.

Initially, police said that the teens couldn’t or wouldn’t be charged because Florida does not have a law mandating that someone offer aid to another person in distress. However, there has been a storm of public outrage since video of Jamel Dunn, 31, drowning on July 9 became public.

“I feel like something should be done to [the teens],” Dunn’s sister Simone McIntosh said in a Facebook Live video that she posted Thursday. “I don’t care if it’s probation or something; it just needs to be an eye-opener. A lesson learned.

“If they can sit there and watch somebody die in front of their eyes, imagine what they’re going to do when they get older. Where’s the morals?” she added.

As previously reported on The Root, the five boys—who are between the ages of 14 and 16—can be heard laughing as Dunn tries to stay afloat in a pond near his family home. CNN reports:

The teens can be heard warning the man that he was “going to die” and they were not going to help him. At one point, one of the teen boys can be heard laughing, saying “he dead.”

Instead of calling for help, the teens recorded the incident on a cell phone, chuckling during the victim’s final moments.

They posted video of the incident on YouTube and did not alert authorities.

Dunn’s family initially filed a missing person’s report on July 12, three days after he had already drowned. His body was recovered from the water on July 14.


The teens’ names have not been released, but police say that at least one of them “expressed no remorse.”

“Just why didn’t you call for help?” asked McIntosh. “Even if you didn’t physically go in and help him, why didn’t you just make a phone call to get him help, someone who can help him? All it took is one call, one second, and a life could have been saved. He clearly screamed for help not once, not twice, but three times.”


McIntosh and the police chief hope to change legislation in light of Dunn’s horrific death.

In the meantime, the state attorney will decide whether to file the misdemeanor charges against the teens.


Read more at CNN.

Ms. Bronner Helm is the Senior Editorial Director at Colorlines. Mouthy Black Girl. Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Fellow. Shea Butter Feminist. Virgo Sun, Aries Moon.



Ugh! These boys are little psychopaths I’m sure. Yet, I shudder to think what kind of law Florida will pass placing a duty to rescue on its citizens.

The law will be overly broad and we will see abused children thrown in jail because they were too scared to call the police while their father was beating their mother to death, for example. Hey, it’s just a phone call, right?

I lived in Florida for 7 years. That state can’t make criminal laws without hurting large swaths of people.

The ramifications of this case will reverbate for the Dunn family as they cruely lost their loved one. But, it will also end up destroying the lives of other folks who will subjects of future Root articles. Just you wait and see.