Police and prosecutors say little can be done legally after the revelation that a group of teens filmed the dying moments of a 32-year-old disabled man last week, with the teens mocking, cursing and laughing while the man drowned in a fenced-off pond.
The Brevard County State Attorney’s Office released the video to FLORIDA TODAY and called the incident a “tragedy” and said the teens’ lack of action had “no moral justification” but added that the teens do not appear to have violated any laws.
The minute-long video, which police called “extremely disturbing,” found its way to social media over the weekend before ending up in the hands of detectives.
The clip depicts the unidentified teens — ages 14 to 16 — off-camera, laughing as the man screamed off in the distance for help before going under in the murky water just after noon July 9 off Plaza Parkway. There were no calls to 911 from the teens.
Instead, police later found the badly decomposed body of the man — identified as Jamel Dunn — July 12. Police said Dunn, who was heavily tattooed, was last seen wearing a black shirt emblazoned with the phrase ‘I’m Blessed,’ and a red hat that read “Only God can judge me,” drowned.
“(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.”
The teens were identified and questioned by detectives but likely will not face charges because they were not directly involved, nor are there any Good Samaritan laws that would be applicable in the case, police said.
Police also added that there appeared to be little remorse from the teens. On the video, the teens refer to the possibility of an alligator being in the pond and can be heard shouting to Dunn as he splashed in the water.