Jamel Dunn

Photo via Simone Scott/GoFundMe

Police say Florida teens mocked disabled man as he drowned

And there's nothing the state can do to charge the teens.


Samantha Grasso


Posted on Jul 21, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 11:09 pm CDT

Jamel Dunn, a 32-year-old man from Cocoa, Florida, drowned in a local pond on July 9, screaming for help before going under. On the shore, a group of teenagers laughed and taunted Dunn as he drowned, mocking him without offering assistance, according to video released by Cocoa Police and published by Florida Today.

In the video, teens ages 14 to 16 laugh out of frame, yelling at Dunn, “Get out the water, you’re gonna die” and “Ain’t nobody finna help you, you dumb bitch.”

One minute into the video, Dunn—who had a disability and needed to walk with a cane—can be heard yelling for help, causing the teens to laugh in response. According to the publication, the teens didn’t call 911.

“Oh, he just died,” one of them exclaims in the video.

“(The teens) were telling him they weren’t going in after him and that ‘you shouldn’t have gone in there,'” Yvonne Martinez, spokesperson for the Cocoa Police Department, told Florida Today. “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.”

Police say Dunn had gone to the pond after an argument with his fiancée shortly before he drowned. His fiancée then left to run errands, leaving Dunn to wade into the water by himself. The teens then watched Dunn drown from a park on the south side of the pond.

The teens failed to notify anyone before leaving the park, and Dunn’s fiancée went on to file a missing persons report, with his siblings posting several pleas for help on Facebook. Three days later, on July 12, Dunn’s body was found. Sometime after that, a family friend saw the video of the teens mocking Dunn circulating on social media and turned the video in to police.

While the teens were identified and questioned by detectives, they’re not likely to face charges since they weren’t legally required to call the police or help Dunn themselves. Even prosecutors with the Brevard County State Attorney’s Office weren’t able to find the teens in violation of any law for failing to call police, nor help the man, the publication reported.

Though police say foul play was not suspected, Dunn’s sister Simone Scott wrote on Facebook that she’s skeptical of the detective’s allegations, specifically that cameras around the pond didn’t capture footage of Dunn getting into the pond, which she said is partially fenced off. Scott also alleged that her family has yet to identify Dunn’s body as of around noon Thursday.

“…The detective lied and told me yesterday he seen the video of Jamel diving in the water and swim out to middle, and that he was questioning the kids and was [going to] push the issue for manslaughter. Also no one never [reached] out to my family to come identify his body before it hit the news, and until this day we haven’t identified his body,” Scott wrote and later elaborated upon in a Facebook Live video. “And the only way to get into the water is jump a tall fence or drive around through Byrd plaza and my brother can’t do neither! My brother is disable[d] and walks with a cane, please make it make sense to me.”


Dunn’s family held a vigil for him earlier this week and have launched a GoFundMe campaign for his funeral expenses. They’ve also started a Change.org petition in favor of a state-wide Good Samaritan law, which has so far been signed by more than 4,000 people in just more than 13 hours.

“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,” a description of the petition reads. “The entire community is outraged and disgusted by what those teens did by just standing by, recording, and mocking someone as he begged for his life to be saved. And even more horrendous the fact that they will not be charged.”

H/T the Root

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*First Published: Jul 21, 2017, 1:22 pm CDT