COCOA, Fla. — A group of teenagers recorded a disabled man as he slowly drowned in a Florida detention pond earlier this month—swearing, laughing and calling out to him that no one was going to help him get out of the water.
“They were telling him they weren’t going in after him and that ‘you shouldn’t have gone in there,'” Yvonne Martinez, spokesperson for the Cocoa Police Department, told reporters.
“He started to struggle and scream for help, and they just laughed,” she lamented. “They didn’t call the police. They just laughed the whole time. He was just screaming … for someone to help him.”
The incident occurred on July 9, as Jamel Dunn, 32, went out for a walk following an argument with his girlfriend. Dunn used a cane as a walking aid, and for unknown reasons, he waded into the water.
Five teenagers, ages 14-16, who had been at the park smoking marijuana, saw Dunn enter the pond. However, instead of answering his cries for help, they turned on their cameras and began mocking him.
“Get out of the water, you gonna die,” one called out.
“We’re not going to help your [expletive]. You shouldn’t have got in,” another teen exclaimed. “Ain’t nobody going to help you, you dumb [expletive].”
Dunn soon went under the water, and one remarked, “Oh, he just died,” to which the youth broke out into laughter. They continued to watch the pond, noting that the man had not resurfaced.
None of the teens called 911 or attempted to help him, but instead uploaded the footage to Facebook.
After Dunn’s girlfriend reported him missing, police found his body in the pond on July 14. A friend of Dunn’s soon also discovered the recording on social media and contacted authorities.
The teens were identified and questioned by police, but did not express any regret or sorrow.
“There was no remorse, only a smirk,” Martinez told Florida Today.
However, although police and prosecutors are horrified by the situation, they state that the teens will not likely face criminal charges as they cannot find any statutes that would be applicable.
“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 persons heard on the recording or the deliberate decision not to render aid to Mr. Dunn,” the office of Brevard County State Attorney Phil Archer said in a statement.
“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,” it said.
Dunn’s sister has launched a GoFundMe page in an effort to raise $20,000 for his funeral expenses. He had two daughters, ages 11 and 6.