A group of teenagers who filmed and taunted a drowning man in a lake are now facing criminal charges for not reporting his death. Authorities are also pushing for legislation that would allow them to prosecute similar cases in the future.

On Friday, the Cocoa Police Department (CPD), in conjunction with the Florida State Attorney’s Office, announced they are pursuing criminal charges against the five teens under a little known Florida Statute that in short requires a person to report a death.

CPD Chief Mike Cantaloupe said the day after the police found that the teens had not broken any laws, they conducted further research with the state attorney’s office, which “yielded the decision to move forward with charges under this statute.”

“It’s our belief that this law has never been enforced in a scenario like this, but we feel it could be applicable,” Cantaloupe said in a statement.

Under Florida Statute 406.12, any person who “becomes aware of the death of any person” is required to “report such death and circumstances forthwith to the district medical examiner.” Anyone who fails to report a death can be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.

Cocoa Mayor Henry Parrish also released a statement, imploring the state attorney to “follow through and file the charges presented by the Cocoa Police Department!”

“If this case can be used as an example to draft new legislation, then I am committed to move forward to make that happen,”Parrish added.

On July 9, a group of teens in Bracco Park witnessed Jamel Dunn, 31, drowning in Bracco Pond. Rather than help him or call the authorities, they laughed and mocked him as a cell phone camera captured his slow death.

“He started to struggle and scream for help and they just laughed. They didn’t call the police. They just laughed the whole time. He was just screaming… for someone to help him,” Yvonne Martinez, spokeswoman for the Cocoa Police Department, told the Washington Post.

“Regardless of the circumstances surrounding his decision to enter the water that day, there is absolutely no justification for what the teens did,” Cantaloupe added. “Pursuing criminal charges is a way to hold them accountable for their own actions.”
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