The Cocoa (Florida) Police Department will give a recommendation to the state attorney's office on Wednesday to charge five teenage boys who recorded a man drowning with misdemeanor counts of failure to report a death, according to Yvonne Martinez, the police department's public information officer.
It will then be up to the state attorney to assign a prosecutor or to dismiss the recommendation.
The police department's recommendation comes more than two weeks after the boys taunted and recorded 32-year-old Jamel Dunn drowning in a pond.
Florida police are pushing to criminally charge the five teens, aged 14 to 16, accused of filming a 32-year-old man plead for help as he drowned in a pond, USA Today reported. Cocoa Police Chief Mike Cantaloupe said that he's looking to seek first-degree misdemeanor charges under a Florida statute related to not reporting a death.
Cantaloupe cited the statute, "It is the duty of any person … who becomes aware of the death of any person" in an accident "to report such death forthwith to the medical examiner's office."
To his knowledge, this is the first time the statute is being used for this type of circumstance. The statute's heading suggests it typically deals with medical examiners who improperly dispose of human remains.
If found guilty, the misdemeanor charges carries a sentence of up to one year in prison. But, since the case with juveniles, possible sentencing would likely be different.
Disturbing cell phone video showed a Florida man drowning and pleading for help as five teens watched and mocked him, WESH reported. The victim, identified as 32-year-old Jamel Dunn, died July 9, but his body wasn't discovered until July 14.
Police found the video on social media after his body was discovered. Cocoa Police spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez described the boys' behavior as "heartless."
“They had phones, but didn’t even call for help,” Cocoa Police spokeswoman Yvonne Martinez said. “Anyone who could just watch a man die like that is beyond heartless,” she said.
In the video, Dunn cries for help as the teenagers laugh, and, even curse, at him.
"Shouldn't have got in. Let him drown, what the heck," said one of the teens. Another one chimed in: "You gotta understand, you shoulda never got in there."
Police said 32--year-old went into the water after an argument with his fiancée.
How could nothing in your heart tell you not to do anything when someone's crying out for help and you're telling them you're not going to help them?"
One boy began to question the group's idle actions as Dunn's head bobbed in and out of the water. One of the other boys replied, "Bro, you scared to see a dead person?"
The teens in the video have been interviewed, but haven't been charged.
“While the incident depicted on the recording does not give rise to sufficient evidence to support a 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,” the Brevard-Seminole State Attorney's Office wrote in a statement.
Dunn's death sparked outrage on social media--many of whom called for charges to be brought against the teens.
The Jamel Dunn situation is disgusting and heartbreaking.— GetFitOrDieTryin💪🏾 (@NurseBaee) July 21, 2017
Since Dunn's death, a GoFundMe page has been set up. As of Friday afternoon, the page has raised more than half of the $15,000 goal.