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By Eric Lieberman
Authorities in Florida say they are not charging teens who taunted and filmed a man while he drowned to death, according to a CNN report published Friday.
Five boys, who are all reportedly between the ages of 14 and 16, can be seen in their video not only waiting idly by while the man struggles to stay afloat, but also laughing and sneering at the scene.
(WATCH: warning, video contains sensitive content)
“You a fucking junkie!” one of the teenagers can be heard saying. “Get out the water, you gonna die!”
“We’re not gonna help your ass, you shouldn’t have gone in,” someone yells towards the man who is trying to tread water, adding that their are likely crocodiles in the body of water. “Ain’t no one finna [going to] help you, you dumb bitch.”
The victim, 31-year-old Jamel Dunn, can be heard crying out for help, which triggers another cacophony of laughter and snide remarks. The teenagers even mimic the weeping sounds Dunn makes.
Once Dunn’s bobbing head disappears from their view, they chortle over the fact that they probably just personally witnessed someone die.
“Yeah he dead. Bet he gone. RIP,” one of the teenagers subsequently says.
As the video concludes, someone asks another person, “Are you ever gonna hit that blunt?”
Law enforcement cannot charge the teenagers with Dunn’s death because of the laws (or lack thereof) on the books.
“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,” the state attorney’s office said in a statement, according to CNN. “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.”
Cocoa police chief Mike Cantaloupe says he wishes there were laws that would formally authorize culpability, and that this instance may serve as an example to state lawmakers that legislation is needed for accountability purposes.
Officials with the Cocoa Police Department extracted the body from a pond located near Dunn’s home July 14, five days after the incident happened July 9, CNN reports. The family filed a missing person’s report July 12.
Some states have Good Samaritan laws, a general category of rules requiring people (in some varying degree) to give assistance to those in danger or incapacitated, as long as it is reasonable and doesn’t put oneself in harm’s way.
The law was popularized in the series finale of the hit show “Seinfeld,” when the narcissistic, but inexplicably adored gang laugh, record, and narrate a robbery of an obese man. The eponymous Jerry Seinfeld and his cohorts were eventually sentenced to 1 year in a Massachusetts prison for the crime, after a fictional district attorney created a prosecution with a number of character witnesses.
Florida technically has a law called the “Good Samaritan Act,” but it essentially only encompasses medical providers and their liability. Due to the particulars of the situation, a lack of a comprehensive Good Samaritan law frustrates prosecutors, law enforcement as well as the family.
“I feel like something should be done to (the teens),” Dunn’s sister said in a Facebook Live video posted Thursday. “I don’t care if it’s probation or something, it just needs to be an eye-opener. A lesson learned.”