STATE ATTORNEY: No Criminal Charges For Cocoa Teens Who Mocked, Recorded Drowning of Jamel Dunn
By Space Coast Daily // June 24, 2018
Video Warning: Viewer Discretion Is Advised
WARNING! – GRAPHIC VIDEO: Some viewers may find the above video disturbing as five Brevard teens mock distressed Jamel Dunn as he drowned.
BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA, FLORIDA – The Office of the State Attorney announced that they won’t criminally charge four juveniles and one adult for their failure to provide assistance in the tragic drowning death of 31-year-old Jamel Dunn on July 9, 2017, in Cocoa.
The decision was made after an extensive investigation by the Cocoa Police Department, the Office of the Brevard Medical Examiner, and the State Attorney’s Office.
“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 the State Attorney’s Office in a statement.
“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. Further, there was concern that the law could have created unintended consequences such as immunizing statements made in a 911 call, greatly impacting their use in a wide range of other criminal cases. We commend Senator Debbie Mayfield for her efforts and hope that the issue can be studied further for possible action in next year’s session.”
The investigation revealed Cocoa Police officers responded to the southern pond at Bracco Park for a report of a body found floating close to the edge of the pond. It was later determined by the medical examiner that Dunn’s cause of death was drowning.
Over that weekend, detectives say Dunn’s death was recorded on video by a group of teens and posted on social media.
At the time of the video recording, the teens ages ranged from 14-18-years-old.
Authorities say the disturbing footage captures the teens mocking and laughing at Dunn as he struggled, and yelled for help, before going under the water.
Police then found Dunn’s body on July 14 after Dunn’s fiancé reported him missing on Wednesday, July 12.
“The law violation of Failure to Notify the Medical Examiner of a Death was also carefully considered in this case,” said the State Attorney’s Office.
“However, we could not find any similar incident in which this law was used for this purpose and we do not believe it would be appropriately applied under the facts of this case. If the legislature wishes to criminalize the conduct in this case, then new legislation will be required to address those concerns.”
“In addition to the lack of an appropriate charging statute, there are numerous evidentiary issues involving the actual time of death of Mr. Dunn and the admissibility of the video, both of which complicate the filing of any criminal charge.”
Law enforcement and the State Attorney’s office hopes this incident could serve as a wake-up call for everyone
“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.
“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.”
Chief Cantaloupe offered his condolences to Dunn’s family and friends.
“I want to express my deepest condolences to Mr. Dunn’s family and friends. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding his decision to enter the water that day, there is absolutely no justification for what the juveniles did,” Chief Cantaloupe added.
“As law enforcement officers, we are sworn to uphold and enforce the laws. Unfortunately, there are no laws in Florida that apply to this scenario. Perhaps this case may be what’s needed to pass new laws. As chief of police, there are times when I wish I could do more. But I’m a firm believer in that good will always win over evil. It may not come in our lifetime, but there will be justice.”
ABOVE VIDEO: Channel 9’s Samantha Manning reports from Cocoa.
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