June 22, 2018 - No Criminal Prosecution in Cocoa Recorded Drowning of Jamel Dunn

Today we are announcing our decision not to criminally charge four (4) juveniles and one (1) adult for their failure to provide assistance in the tragic drowning death of Jamel Dunn on July 9th, 2017 in Cocoa, Florida. This comes after an extensive investigation by the Cocoa Police Department, the Office of the Brevard Medical Examiner, and the State Attorney's Office.

As previously acknowledged by the Cocoa Police Department and this office, there is no Florida law that requires a person to provide emergency assistance under the facts of this case. A law intended to address this type of situation was proposed during this year's legislative session, but failed to receive sufficient support to pass. Further there was concern that the law could have created unintended consequences such as immunizing statements made in a 911 call, greatly impacting their use in a wide range of other criminal cases. We commend Senator Debbie Mayfield for her efforts and hope that the issue can be studied further for possible action in next year's session.

The law violation of Failure to Notify the Medical Examiner of a Death was also carefully considered. However, we could not find any similar incident in which this law was used for this purpose and we do not believe it would be appropriately applied under the facts of this case. If the legislature wishes to criminalize the conduct in this case, then new legislation will be required to address those concerns.

In addition to the lack of an appropriate charging statute, there are numerous evidentiary issues involving the actual time of death of Mr. Dunn and the admissibility of the video, both of which complicate the filing of any criminal charge.

Mr. Archer provided the following statement about today’s decision: “I know that everyone was sickened by the callous disregard for human life exhibited by these young people. We can only hope that this was an isolated and rare circumstance that will never happen again. Unfortunately, Florida law does not address this behavior and we are ethically restrained from pursuing criminal charges without a reasonable belief of proving a crime beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt.”

Todd Brown
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Office of the State Attorney
18th Judicial Circuit
2725 Judge Fran Jamieson Way
Building D
Viera, Fl. 32940
 
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