Brevard County, FL - Earlier this week, the State Attorney's Office said that there was no law to charge the five teens involved in the death of Jamel Dunn. In a press conference held on Friday, July 22, Cocoa Police Chief Michael Canatloupe said that all five teenagers will be charged for their involvement with Dunn's death
The change of heart came one day after the announcement that the teenagers would not be charged, despite the "immorality of their actions."
Prosecutors from the State Attorney's Office and detectives met on Friday for hours to discuss the incident, and police are in the process of obtaining warrants.
Florida Statute 406.12 states "It is the duty of any person in the district where a death occurs, who becomes aware of the death of any person occurring... must report such death and circumstances to the district medical examiner." The charge is a misdemeanor.
Chief Cantaloupe said that this use for the law is the first time that he knows of. He said that Jamel Dunn might have been alive today, if just one teenager had called 911.
Chief Cantaloupe said, "We don't want another family have to go through what the Dunn family has went through. Building better laws, working with juveniles and establishing better family relationships may prevent another situation."
The incident occurred on Sunday, July 9, when Jamel Dunn, age 32, drowned. His fiancee reported him missing on July 12, and his "badly decomposed" body was found on Friday, July 14. A family friend discovered the video on social media late last week, and contacted police in Brevard County, according to Fox News.
Police said that Jamel Dunn had been at the pond after an argument with his fiancee, who was not identified. She left after about 10 - 15 minutes to run errands.
In the video, the teenagers can be heard laughing and mocking Dunn as he struggles in the water, and screams for someone to help him. One teen can be heard yelling, "Get out the water, you gonna die". Another can be heard yelling, "Ain’t nobody fixing to help you, you dumb (expletive)." As Dunn goes under, one of the teens said, "Oh, he just died."
Police said that none of the teens, who are between 14- and 16-years-old, called 911 or tried to help Dunn in any way. Yvonne Martinez, spokeswoman for the Cocoa Police Department, told Florida Today that the teenagers "...laughed the whole time."
She said that Dunn was "...just screaming for someone to help him." The teens were reported to have been hanging out at the area near the pond, "smoking marijuana" all day.
The teens have been identified, although no names were released, and have been interviewed by police. One of the teens who was questioned by police stared straight ahead during the interview, while his distraught mother sat beside him and cried. Martinez said that he had no remorse, "only a smirk."
Dunn's family members were shocked at the callous indifference of the teenagers. His sister, Simone Scott, said in a social media post, “(Okay), I agree they don’t have to help, but they should have called 9-1-1."
She said, “My brother is disabled and walks with a cane…please make it make sense to me."
Jamel Dunn is survived by two young daughters, and several family members.
Police sent the case to the Brevard County State Attorney's Office, but prosecutors were unable to find a crime that the teens could be charged with, since 'they were not directly involved in Dunn's death'.
In a statement, the Brevard County State Attorney's Office said:
"We are deeply saddened and shocked at both the manner in which Mr. Dunn lost his life and the actions of the witnesses to this tragedy. While the incident depicted on the recording does not give rise to sufficient evidence to support criminal prosecution under Florida statutes, we can find no moral justification for either the behavior of persons heard on the recording or the deliberate decision not to render aid to Mr. Dunn."
You can see the video of the incident below. WARNING - Disturbing