A group of teenagers watched, laughed and filmed as a 32-year-old man drowned in a lake in Cocoa, Florida, near Orlando. They later uploaded the footage to Facebook, sparking outrage across the web.
“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,” said Yvonne Martinez, spokeswoman for the Cocoa Police Department as cited by The Washington Post.
“Get out the water, you’re gonna die,” says one of the teenagers, speaking off camera.
“He keeps putting his head under,” another says. “Wow.”
“Bro, you scared to see a dead person?” another asks as the man slowly drowns in the distance.
“Oh, he just died,” another teen says as the group erupts with laughter.
Warning: This video may be distressing to some viewers
The group, aged between 14 and 16 filmed the man drowning and laughed and mocked Jamel Dunn as he slowly died on July 9. The “extremely disturbing,” footage was later found by investigating detectives and submitted to the Brevard County State Attorney’s Office.
The teens were identified by police but are unlikely to face charges as witnesses are not compelled by law to help in such circumstances. Good Samaritan laws are designed merely to protect witnesses from prosecution should they intervene to help a person in distress.
“They were watching him,” Martinez added. “Everybody is just horrified by this.”
Dunn’s fiancée filed a missing persons report on July 12 but Dunn’s “badly decomposed” remains were not discovered until July 14.
The teens showed little to no remorse for their inaction with one of the group staring ahead during questioning while his mother wept beside him, said Martinez.
“There was no remorse, only a smirk,” she said.
“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,” the state attorney general’s office said.
“(The teens) were telling him they weren’t going in after him and that ‘you shouldn’t have gone in there,’” said Yvonne Martinez, spokeswoman for the Cocoa Police Department.
“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.”
Simone Scott, who identified herself as Dunn’s sister, has taken to social media to share her grief and outrage at the incident with the world.
“My brother is disabled and walks with a cane…please make it make sense to me,” Scott posted to Facebook.
“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,” the State Attorney’s Office said in a statement sent to Florida Today. The agency also released the footage to the public.
Dunn’s family have set up a GoFundMe campaign to cover his funeral expenses. The crowdfunding page has received over $10,000 of the $20,000 target so far.
A Change.org petition has been set up calling on the governor of Florida to introduce a new Good Samaritan Law. Some have called for it to be dubbed the ‘Jamel Law,’ similar to the Amber alert, which was named in honor of Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old girl who was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas, in 1996.
“The family is asking that there be a Good Samaritan Law to be put in place in the event one purposely records the death of an individual and does nothing to attempt to call for help.”