Authorities in Cocoa, Fla., say that a group of teens callously watched and laughed as a 32-year-old disabled man drowned in a retention pond last week.
Police in Cocoa said they discovered that the teens had recorded the drowning of Jamel Dunn on video, the Associated Press reports. The video taken by the teens at the time of the drowning was released by the state attorney’s office Thursday, with audio later published by news sites. In the audio, the teens can be heard laughing at Dunn, telling him that he was going to die and insisting that they weren’t going to help.
Police have since identified and interviewed the five teens who apparently stood by and did nothing. While Cocoa Police Chief Mike Cataloupe said that while their actions were “utterly inhumane and cruel,” criminal charges will not be filed because state law doesn’t require people to give or call for help when someone is in distress, the newswire notes.
In the minute-long video, taken July 9 just after midday, the teens, ages 14-16, laugh off-camera as Dunn can be heard screaming in the distance for help before going under the water. None of the teens went to his aid or even called 911 to report anything, Florida Today reports.
Dunn’s fiancee filed a missing-person report after he did not show up at his home, but it was not until July 12 that police found Dunn’s body. Foul play was not suspected in the case. After the body was discovered last Friday, a family friend saw the video the teens took making rounds on social media and handed it over to police.
“[The teens] were telling him they weren’t going in after him and that ‘you shouldn’t have gone in there,’” Yvonne Martinez, spokeswoman for the Cocoa Police Department, told the news site. “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.”
Editor’s note: Audio from footage of Dunn’s drowning includes strong language that some may find upsetting.
In the video, the teens show little concern throughout the whole ordeal, with one even referencing the possibility of an alligator being in the pond.
“Get out the water, you gonna die,” one teen shouts.
“Ain’t nobody finna help you, you dumb bitch,” another shouts.
The teens can be heard casually questioning Dunn’s motives for getting into the water.
“Oh, he just died,” another teen says as laughter ensues.
Dunn’s family members say that they were shocked to discover that Dunn might have been saved if only someone had decided to lend a helping hand.
“I agree they don’t have to help,” Simone Scott, who identified as Dunn’s sister, posted on social media, according to Florida Today. “but they should have called 911.
“My brother is disabled and walks with a cane … please make it make sense to me,” she added.
“We are deeply saddened and shocked at both the manner in which Mr. Dunn lost his life and the actions of the witnesses to this tragedy,” the state attorney’s office said in a statement, according to the news site. “While the incident depicted on the recording does not give rise to sufficient evidence to support 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.”
Police say that Dunn went to the pond after an argument with his fiancee that occurred about 10-15 minutes before the incident. His fiancee then left the area to run errands. Dunn then waded into the water as the teens watched from another 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 set up a GoFundMe to help with funeral expenses.