A drowning death in Florida has captured national attention. Not long after the victim’s body was found in the small lake, a video surfaced that showed a group of teens taunting him and standing by as he went under. And now authorities have decided not to prosecute the witnesses who stood by and laughed as the man died.
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The video is more than two minutes long. It has audio of five boys taunting the drowning man. The boys, who range in age from 14-16, are not believed to have had any role in the death of 31-year-old Jamel Dunn. Yet the did nothing to help him, and even mocked him as he struggled in the water.
Dunn, who family members say is disabled and has to walk with a cane, drowned in the pond near his family’s Cocoa, Florida home on July 9th. The witnesses did not call police to report the incident. They left him there. Dunn’s family filed a missing persons report on the 12th, and his body was found on the 14th.
The incident has shocked many around the country who can’t fathom how the group of boys are able to taunt the man as he is struggling.
Yet Florida doesn’t have a law that compels people to help others in distress. “As law enforcement officers, we are sworn to uphold and enforce the laws,” Cocoa police chief Mike Cantaloupe said. “Unfortunately, there are no laws in Florida that apply to this scenario. Perhaps this case may be what’s needed to pass new laws.”
“As chief of police, there are times when I wish I could do more. But I’m a firm believer in that good will always win over evil,” he added. “It may not come in our lifetime, but there will be justice.”
“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 wrote in a statement. “While the incident depicted on the recording does not give rise to sufficient evidence to support a 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.”
“If there was [a law] we would charge them,” Cocoa Police Department spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez told CNN.
“The family is frustrated … the detectives are frustrated, that we cannot hold anyone accountable for this,” Martinez said. “No one deserves to go like that.”
“At least one of the teens expressed no remorse while being interviewed by detectives,” Martinez noted.
Questions about the content of the video has also been controversial. Florida’s state attorney has that, “out of concern for the affected family and friends of Mr. Dunn that it not be published in whole or in part.”
Simone Scott, Dunn’s sister, wants people to see it. She posted it to Facebook. “I feel like something should be done” Dunn’s sister said in a Facebook Live video. “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 asked.
It remains unclear why Dunn was in the lake. On the day of the drowning, police believed he’d argued with his mother and his fiance. Police say he’d told his fiance to “leave the house.”
“(His fiancé) left the home at about 12:40 p.m. Based on the video, he went into the water at about 12:50 p.m. and then drowned. He was in the water struggling for one or two minutes for the video portion,” Martinez detailed.
“We don’t have anything criminal resulting from that incident. Our detectives were trying to get potentially if a negligence law could apply. The state attorney advises it doesn’t meet standard for a criminal charge.”
We are posting the video. The content is disturbing on many levels, so be warned.