COCOA BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s absolutely heartbreaking.
A drowning man’s final moments were captured on video. Five teens can be seen standing on the shore of a Florida lake, mocking and cursing the man as he cries for help and struggles to stay above water.
“We’re not gonna help you ***. Shouldn’t have gotten in. Drowning. What the heck. Ha,” one teen can be heard saying.
The video, which was shared on social media, quickly went viral. Now it’s being met with universal outrage.
It happened on July 9 in Cocoa Florida.
Authorities say the teens noticed the man, later identified as Jamel Dunn, pleading for help in the middle of a lake.
“You don’t understand,” says a teen, as the man cries out.
Another teen keeps recording Dunn as he flails in vain to stay afloat.
“Laughed at him. Told him that they weren’t going to help him. Weren’t going to rescue him. And taunted and laughed at him the entire time,” said Yvonne Martinez with the Cocoa Police Department.
Police recovered Dunn’s body four days later.
“The outrage that everyone feels. Is you feel like there should be severe penalties,” said criminal defense attorney, Roger Futerman.
Futerman watched the video in his Clearwater office. He said, while most would agree, you should have to help, he says, the law doesn’t require that. “There’s really no law in Florida that makes you have a duty to render aid. And that’s not an aberration of Florida, that’s throughout the United States” said Futerman.
The victim’s fiance is furious. “How can nothing in your heart tell you not to do anything when someone’s crying out for help and you’re telling ’em that you’re not gonna help ’em” said Rondanielle Williams.
But the teens aren’t off the hook. They’re are being charged with an obscure misdemeanor. “They had an immediate duty to let someone know, law enforcement or a trained physician that we just saw the death,” Futerman added.
Cold? Callus? Reprehensible? All of the above. “In this case, if they’d have gone in there, they could have saved this boy’s life,” said Futerman.
Oddly enough, there is an exception to the law about being required to help someone.
If an owner of a ship or boat comes across someone needing help, maritime law kicks in and you must render aid.
On dry land, it doesn’t work that way.