The group of teenagers who callously recorded and taunted a drowning man as he pleaded for help will not face charges after all, even after the police chief recommended that the state attorney prosecute them under a statute that requires a person with knowledge of a death to notify a medical examiner.
According to ABC News, in accordance with earlier thoughts on the case, the teens will not be charged for not helping 31-year-old Jamel Dunn, since there is no Florida law that requires someone to provide or even call for help when someone is in distress.
“Today we are announcing our decision not to criminally charge four juveniles and one adult for their failure to provide assistance in the tragic drowning death of Jamel Dunn on July 9th, 2017 in Cocoa, Fla.,” Phil Archer, state attorney for Florida’s Seminole and Brevard counties, said in a statement released Friday.
That incident last July shocked Cocoa after the video spread across social media, displaying the teens’ heartless disregard for Dunn, who was disabled.
Cocoa Police Chief Mike Cantaloupe slammed their actions as “utterly inhumane and cruel,” but at that time he speculated that charges would not be filed because it wasn’t against state law.
In the minute-long video that was taken, the teens can be heard laughing off-camera as Dunn screams.
“Get out the water, you gonna die,” one teen shouts.
“Ain’t nobody finna help you, you dumb bitch,” another shouts.
“Oh, he just died,” another teen says as laughter ensues.
None of them made any move to help Dunn or even call 911. Dunn’s body was not recovered until five days after the teens recorded their footage.
Then, a little later that month, after a storm of public outrage, Cantaloupe decided to go ahead and recommend charges against the teens.
Now, nearly a year later, we are back to square one.
“As previously acknowledged by the Cocoa Police Department and this office, there is no Florida law that requires a person to provide emergency assistance under the facts of this case,” Archer said.
A law that was hoping to address instances like what happened to Dunn was proposed during this year’s legislative session, but it failed to receive adequate support, Archer noted.
“I know that everyone was sickened by the callous disregard for human life exhibited by these young people,” Archer said in the statement. “We can only hope that this was an isolated and rare circumstance that will never happen again. Unfortunately, Florida law does not address this behavior and we are ethically restrained from pursuing criminal charges without a reasonable belief of proving a crime beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt.”
Meanwhile, Dunn’s family is still left struggling with the fact that he did not have to die that day.
“They should have been punished,” Melissa Ann Clark, Dunn’s sister-in-law, said. “It’s definitely injustice.”
She added: “A man died, and they laughed.”