CINCINNATI, OH (AP) — About a dozen people gathered outside an elementary school Friday demonstrating on behalf of an 8-year-old boy who killed himself two days after being bullied and knocked unconscious by another student.
Parent Carolyn Emery, who has two children at Carson Elementary School and volunteers there, said she knew Gabriel Taye, the boy who killed himself in January.
“Gabe was a very loving little boy who always had a smile on his face and would bring a smile to your face,” Emery said. “It just breaks my heart that he’s gone.”
The Cincinnati Public Schools released a choppy and grainy 24-minute-long surveillance that appears to show Gabriel trying to shake the hand of a boy who had earlier hit another child and then collapsing to the floor after being pushed into a wall at the entrance of a boys’ bathroom.
The Hamilton County coroner said she was reopening an investigation into the suicide. Gabriel hanged himself with a necktie in the bedroom of his Cincinnati apartment on Jan. 26.
Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco told Cincinnati radio station WLW on Thursday that she asked police for a full investigation to determine whether there are contributing factors to Gabriel’s suicide, WXIX-TV reported.
“It was very hard for me to believe that an 8-year-old would even know what it means to commit suicide,” Sammarco told WLWT.
Cincinnati police said they would have no further comment about the case, and they directed question to the coroner’s office. The coroner’s spokesman said Friday that Sammarco wasn’t available for comment.
Emery said her 9-year-old daughter has also been bullied at the school. Another child smacked the girl in the face and nothing was done about it, she said.
“I just think it needs to stop, and something needs to be done,” she said.
Cornelia Reynolds, Gabriel’s mother, declined an interview Friday and referred questions to her attorneys. A woman who lives in the same Cincinnati apartment complex as Reynolds said Friday that her 13-year-old son sometimes played with Gabriel outside.
“I would see him and his mother racing from their car to the building laughing,” Mildred White said.
According to her attorneys, Reynolds didn’t learn of the bullying until the attorneys received a copy of a police investigative file that contained an email from a homicide detective to school officials describing the surveillance video.
The district said administrators asked Reynolds to pick Gabriel up from school and take him to a hospital. The attorneys dispute that. They said Reynolds decided herself to pick him up from school and that she didn’t take him to the hospital until her sister, who was baby-sitting while Reynolds was at work, called to say Gabriel had vomited and was complaining of stomach pains.
Leader said Gabriel had no history of mental health issues and described him as a happy-go-lucky kid. When his mother asked him what happened at school the day he was bullied, he said he didn’t know, her attorneys said.
“He really didn’t have any recollection of what had happened,” said attorney Jennifer Branch, who also is representing Reynolds.