COCOA, Fla. (WESH) – Calling it “beyond heartless,” Cocoa police are denouncing a video that shows a man drowning and crying out in distress, while five teens watch and laugh.
Jamel Dunn, 31, of Cocoa, drowned in a retention pond in Cocoa on July 9, police said. His body was not discovered until July 12.
Shortly after the discovery, a video surfaced on social media that shows Dunn in the water while teenagers nearby mock and curse him, police said.
Dunn cries out, and a burst of laughter ensues from the teens, one of whom recorded the video on a phone, police said.
“They had phones, but didn’t even call for help,” Cocoa police spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez said. “Anyone who could just watch a man die like that is beyond heartless,” she said.
Investigators do not know why Dunn entered the deep water of the pond, but it followed an argument with his fiancée, Martinez said.
Investigators have identified the teens and interviewed them. After consulting with prosecutors in the Brevard County State Attorney’s Office, investigators said Thursday that the teenagers had broken no laws.
On Friday, police changed course and said they planned to charge the juveniles with failure to report a death, a misdemeanor charge. Police said it is an obscure law that has not been used.
The State Attorney’s Office will examine the evidence and decide whether to prosecute the teenagers. It’s unclear when that determination will be made.
In a statement Thursday, the Brevard-Seminole State Attorney’s Office wrote:
“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.”