A video shot by a group of teens laughing and taunting a man as he drowns in a retention pond in Cocoa, Florida has been making its rounds on Facebook and other social media the past few days. The video just as quickly made its way into the hands of Cocoa police who are now suggesting the teens should face criminal charges.
Jamel Dunn had entered into the pond on July 9, 2017. While Dunn had recently gotten into an argument with his fiancee that day, it is unclear whether the man had intended to take his own life when he decided to go for a swim.
The teens, who had been quite a distance away from Dunn, began recording. One teen can be heard saying “Fucking junkie, get out the water, you gonna die.” The voice of a second teen follows up with, “Ain’t nobody going to help you, you dumb bitch.”
The teens began to laugh harder when Dunn’s cries for help had stopped and they realized that Dunn had disappeared underneath the water. “This man ain’t getting back up,” one teen is heard saying, as other teens are heard stating similar remarks. His body wouldn’t be found until days later.
Once the video had been posted online, many were outraged that the teens could callously joke about the situation. The teens had made no effort to call 911 or contact anyone who may have been able to help Dunn.
Cocoa police spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez agrees that the behavior displayed by the teens who shot the video is inhumane. “For these kids to just do what they did and video and be laughing about it,” Martinez told WKMG-TV, “it’s just mind-boggling.”
Unfortunately, the hands of law enforcement may be tied when it comes to Florida law. Florida has no “Good Samaritan” laws, meaning at no point is anyone obligated to help another person in distress.
Police are hoping this incident will push for new legislation. Simone McIntosh, Dunn’s sister, told CNN that a friend has filed a petition and is being instrumental in seeing that new laws are passed.
Cocoa police brought the teens in for questioning after receiving the video. One teen told the police that the group had been “smoking weed” at the pond when the incident occurred. Another teen showed no remorse over the events that happened, while the others say they now realize that they should have offered some form of help. Since the teens have not technically committed a crime their names have not been released.
Update: Cocoa Police Chief Michael Cantaloupe has stated that although the teens were not guilty of any crimes by refusing to help the drowning man, he was able to charge the teens with failing to report a death, a misdemeanor charge. He is currently in the process of filing the necessary paperwork with the state’s attorney’s office.