In a news story that sounds like something from Mad Max, a group of Florida teenagers who filmed themselves laughing and cracking jokes while a disabled man drowned, and then left the scene without telling anybody, will face criminal charges after all – but there’s a catch.
The teenagers, each between the ages of 14 and 16, will be charged with not reporting a death, a misdemeanor offense under Florida law. Authorities initially said there didn’t appear to be grounds to prosecute the teens, who were caught on camera mocking 32-year-old Jamel Dunn as he drowned in Cocoa, Florida, according to the New York Post.
The callous crime, which is vaguely reminiscent of the infamous Kitty Genovese slaying in New York City, is indicative of a trend tht has been bothering older Americans since the first signs began emerging in the early 90s. The contemporary breakdown in communal responsibility, fostered by smartphones and digitization of daily life, where violent videos inure children to death and violence. The boys can be heard in the video discussing Dunn’s impending death. One of the boys teased another about being scared to see a dead body, the boy replies “I ain’t scared to see no dead person.”
The disturbing footage, recorded by one of the boys, shows Dunn, who is disabled, struggling and screaming for help in the pondIn response, the boys urge him to get out of the water – “Get out the water you’re going to die!” Another boy shouts. “We’re not finna help you!”
The recommended charges will be given to the Florida State Attorney’s Office, which will determine whether to prosecute the teens, according to Cocoa Police Chief Mike Cantaloupe.
Even if the boys are charged, misdemeanors typically carry sentences of less than a year, leaving the boys free of criminal records, unless they commit more crimes as adults Cocoa Police Department spokesperson Yvonne Martinez said the teens, ages 14 to 16, had The department didn’t disclose the number of teens involved, or their names.
“He started to struggle and scream for help and they just laughed,” Martinez said. “They didn’t call the police. They just laughed the whole time. He was just screaming … for someone to help him.” The teenagers didn’t stop joking about Dunn when he failed to surface in the water.
“Oh, he just died,” said one as the others laughed.
The teens left the Cocoa park without notifying anyone about Dunn’s death. Three days later, his body was discovered in the pond.
“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,” State Attorney Phil Archer said in a statememt, according to NBC News.
Dunn’s sister Simone McIntosh started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for his funeral and to help his two daughters.t Dunn’s death. Three days later, his body was discovered in the pond.