COCOA, Fla. — A Florida police department is recommending charges for a group of teenagers who taunted a drowning man as they recorded his death.
On Wednesday, the Cocoa Police Department handed over a recommendation to the state attorney’s office to charge the teenage boys with misdemeanor counts of failure to report a death, said Yvonne Martinez, the police department’s public information officer.
It will be up to the state attorney to assign it to a prosecutor or to dismiss it.
Public outrage has mounted since a YouTube video surfaced that showed Jamel Dunn, 31, drowning on July 9.
In the more than two-minute long video, five teen boys — who are between the ages of 14 and 16 — can be heard laughing as the man struggles to stay afloat in a pond near his family’s home, police said.
The teens can be heard warning the man that he was “going to die” and they were not going to help him. At one point, one of the teen boys can be heard laughing, saying “he dead.”
Instead of calling for help, the teens recorded the incident on a cell phone, chuckling during the victim’s final moments.
They posted video of the incident on YouTube and didn’t alert authorities.
Dunn’s family initially filed a missing person’s report on July 12, three days after he had already drowned. His body was recovered from the water on July 14.
Police had initially said it could be difficult to charge the teens because Florida doesn’t have a law that obligates a citizen to render aid or call for help for anyone in distress.
But they have since decided to use a Florida law, also know as the medical examiners statute, which says that it’s the “duty of any person” to report a death.
“Typically it’s used for people who work in nursing homes, hospitals and care givers. The statute itself is written under the guidelines for a medical examiner. We’re hoping it applies here, as well,” Martinez said.
She added that it “has never been used in this type of scenario before, but we’re going to see if it sticks.”
At least one of the teens had “expressed no remorse while being interviewed by detectives,” Martinez told CNN last week.
She said the teenagers’ parents were “very disturbed” and some of the teens did show remorse.
Dunn’s sister, Simone McIntosh, had many questions for the teenagers after her brother’s death.
“Just why didn’t you call for help?” she said on HLN last week. “Even if you didn’t physically go in and help him, why didn’t you just make a phone call to get him help, someone who can help him? ”
Police say that on the morning he drowned, Dunn had gotten into a “verbal altercation” with his mother and “possibly his fiancee.”
Dunn went into the pond near his family’s home shortly after his fiancee left, police said.
The family doesn’t know why Dunn entered the water, his sister told HLN.
The state attorney’s office urged the media “out of concern for the affected family and friends of Mr. Dunn that it not be published in whole or in part.”
Given that Dunn’s sister has encouraged the public to share the video, CNN has chosen to publish a small portion of the incident, as well as the audio of the teens’ comments in full.