WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Last July, a video recording was posted on YouTube showing Jamel Dunn, 31 in his dying moments, as he slowly drowned in a pond near his home in Cocoa, Florida.
- The video was taken by 5 teenagers, ages 14 to 19, who instead of helping him, mocked him, told him that he was “going to die” and left him to drown.
- Last week, the State Attorney’s office said that the teens won’t face charges as there is no law in Florida that requires anyone to report a death or call for help for anyone in danger or in an emergency.
On July 12, 2017, three days after a disabled man drowned in a pond, his family filed a missing person’s report. On July 14, Jamel Dunn’s body was recovered from the pond.
Cocoa Police Department has recommended the five teens, who left Dunn to die, be charged with failure to report a death. Unfortunately, the State Attorney’s office released a statement last week stating that these teenagers will not be criminally charged.
“As previously acknowledged by the Cocoa Police Department and this office, there is no Florida law that requires a person to provide emergency assistance under the facts of this case,” said Todd Brown, a spokesman for the Office of the State Attorney.
“A law intended to address this type of situation was proposed during this year’s legislative session, but failed to receive sufficient support to pass.”
Brown further added that there were inconsistencies in the actual time of the victim’s death and the validity of the video.
I know that everyone was sickened by the callous disregard for human life exhibited by these young people. We can only hope that this was an isolated and rare circumstance that will never happen again,” said State Attorney Phil Archer of the 18th Judicial Circuit.
“Unfortunately, Florida law does not address this behavior and we are ethically restrained from pursuing criminal charges without a reasonable belief of proving a crime beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt.”
Although Florida has a law known as the Medical Examiners Statute that states the “duty of any person” to report a death, this applies only to caregivers working in nursing facilities and hospitals, and unfortunately, not applicable in this case.
Simone McIntosh, the victim’s sister, previously said that she wants the law changed to hold witnesses like these teenagers responsible.
“All it took is one call, one second, and a life could have been saved,” she told HLN last year. “He clearly screamed for help not once, not twice, but three times.”