The five Florida teenagers who recorded and mocked a disabled man as he drowned in a pond will not be charged with any crimes, WESH-TV is reporting.
Back in July 2017, Jamel Dunn, who was disabled, somehow wound up in a pond near Cocoa, Florida. Five teenagers, ages 14 to 18, recorded him drowning on their cell phones. Even as Dunn was taking his last breaths, the teenagers, rather than helping him or calling for help, mocked him and cursed at him.
“We’re not gonna help your (expletive). Shouldn’t have got in. Let him drown. What the heck.”
The teens later posted videos of the man drowning on social media.
His body was found five days later on July 14.
As calls for justice for Dunn echoed throughout the world, prosecutors in Florida found their hands tied as there is no Florida law on the books that requires you to give aid when someone is in danger. As CNN reported in late July, however, Cocoa police finally asked prosecutors to charge the teens with failure to report a death, described by WESH reporter Dan Billow as an obscure and seldom-enforced law, and which is only a misdemeanor.
5 Florida teens will not be prosecuted after they videotaped and mocked a disabled man as he drowned and didn't help. They spotted 31-year-old Jamel Dunn struggling in a pond last July, but instead of helping they videotaped him and then posted it online. https://t.co/pxbjygfEUq
— WKRG (@WKRG) June 23, 2018
However, after 11 months of deliberating, prosecutors determined that even that charge wouldn’t stick. State Attorney Phil Archer said Friday that there was simply no law under which the state could charge the teens, and charging them with failure to report a death was a stretch, ethically.
“Unfortunately, Florida law does not address this behavior and we are ethically restrained from pursuing criminal charges. If the Legislature wishes to criminalize the conduct in this case, then new legislation will be required.”
And of course, the Florida legislature can’t pass a law and then retroactively charge the teens with breaking it, as the Constitution forbids such a thing.
Rondanielle Williams, Dunn’s fiancee at the time of his death, says she was appalled at the teens’ lack of compassion.
“It broke my heart for someone to just sit there, of age to know if someone needs help. They’re crying out for help in the video, and you just do nothing.”