About seven seconds into the video, a teenager raises the specter of death.
“Get out the water, you’re gonna die,” one of the teens shouts to a disabled man whom his friends are watching struggle fully clothed in a fenced-in pond. “You shouldn’t have gone in,” says another. The kids laugh.
“He keeps putting his head under,” another says. “Wow.” Once the group realizes the weight of the situation, one of the boys prods another.
“Bro, you scared to see a dead person?” he asks.
Jamel Dunn, 32, drowned on July 9 in Cocoa, Fla., a coastal city east of Orlando. The teenagers, aged 14 to 16, filmed the incident as they laughed and mocked Dunn, then posted the video to social media. The video, which police called “extremely disturbing,” was found by detectives and handed over to Brevard County state attorney’s office, which recently released it to Florida Today.
“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,” Yvonne Martinez, spokeswoman for the Cocoa Police Department, told the paper, which posted only audio of the incident. Both the police department and Brevard County state attorney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The teens were identified and questioned by detectives investigating the case, but they are unlikely to face charges. They were not directly involved in Dunn’s drowning, and good Samaritan laws — which typically involve protections for bystanders helping on the scene of an emergency — don’t apply to the case, police said.
Dunn was at the pond following an argument with his fiancee shortly before the incident and walked in on his own, Martinez said.
“They were watching him,” she said about the teenagers. “Everybody is just horrified by this.”
Dunn’s fiancee filed a missing people report on July 12. His “badly decomposed body” was found on July 14, and a family member identified Dunn from the video circulating online. Dunn walked with the aid of a cane and had two young children, Florida Today reported.
Police said there appeared to be little regret from the teens involved during and after the incident. One of the teens stared ahead while he was questioned while his mother cried next to him, Martinez said.
“There was no remorse, only a smirk,” she said.
Simone Scott, who identified herself as Dunn’s sister, lambasted the teenagers for not contacting first responders.
“(Okay), I agree they don’t have to help, but they should have called 9-1-1,” she wrote Thursday on Facebook. She also expressed frustration with the lack of charges and slow pace of authorities.
“No one never reached out to my family to come identify his body before it hit the news, and until this day we haven’t identified his body,” Scott said.
Scott posted the video, along with a black image with white text: “How could you witness someone die and not be charged with anything? #share”
The Brevard County state attorney’s office said that “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 people heard on the recording or the deliberate decision not to render aid to Mr. Dunn.”
According to the police, Dunn was last seen in a red hat reading “Only God can judge me.”