Warning: the video is disturbing.
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Although it may not have been seen as a possible outcome, given Florida state law, that charges would be handed down to the five teens who recorded and mocked a drowning disabled man, it seems authorities viewed their inaction as an egregious enough offense to change the law.
The disturbing minute-long video went up on social media and showed the teens, ranging in age from 14 to 18, pointing and laughing as Jamel Dunn, 31, drowned on July 9 in Cocoa, Florida.
“Get out the water, you’re gonna die,” one yelled. “He keeps putting his head under,” said another. “Wow.” You can even hear them say they won’t save him, just before realizing that the man died.
“Bro, you scared to see a dead person?” one asked. “Oh, he just died,” another says.
— Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) July 21, 2017
Police are stunned that never once did the teens think of helping, even as Dunn screamed for help. None of them called 911, and none of them reported the death.
“I want to think that’s a natural instinct for any of us, that if we saw somebody in trouble or somebody having an issue, that we would at least try to get them help,” Cocoa police Chief Mike Cantaloupe said on Friday, according to Click Orlando.
Click Orlando noted that Florida law doesn’t require you to help a person in need, but the police in Cocoa are pushing for misdemeanor charges under the Florida Statute 406.12, requiring people who “become aware of the death of any person” to report it.
The report says Florida statute hasn’t been applied to a case like this before, and it will be up to the State Attorney’s Office to decide if it should be.
Chief Cantaloupe said that even if the misdemeanor charges sought aren’t handed down police may try to get the law changed so that witnesses would be legally required to help in a similar situation.
“I think that would be the huge win, I think that would be justice. We don’t want another family to go through what the Dunn family has gone through,” he said. “Regardless of the circumstances surrounding his decision to enter the water that day, there is absolutely no justification for what the teens did. Pursuing criminal charges is a way to hold them accountable for their own actions.”
The decision on the misdemeanor charges will be made in the coming weeks. Until then, the teens will not be arrested