Gabriel Taye was just eight-years-old; he was just using the bathroom at his school, Carson Elementary, near Cincinnati, when he, according to the school, fainted.
Several minutes later, assistant principal Jeff McKenzie found Gabe unconscious on the floor and took him to the school nurse, who called Gabe’s mother, Cornelia Reynolds, to say Gabe had fainted and asked her to come pick him up.
At home, when Gabe began to vomit, Reynolds took him to the hospital. He stayed home from school for a day, but returned to Carson the following day; after school that day, he came home and hanged himself using his necktie.
After Gabe’s suicide, Cincinnati homicide detective Eric Karaguleff began to investigate and what he saw on a school surveillance video horrified him enough to write to the principal and assistant principal at Carson Elementary, and to Child Protective Services, saying he was alarmed at what took place:
“I saw some concerning events, and I don’t even have a child at that school.”
But the bully slammed Gabe so hard against the wall that he fell unconscious to the floor, which is when, according to Karaguleff, the bully seemed to “celebrate and rejoice in his behavior” as Gabe lay motionless.
Several other young boys came into the restroom and took turns kicking Gabe, still unconscious, while other boys just step over his body like he was garbage. Others stop and stare at Gabe, poking him; this goes on for about five minutes until an adult enters the bathroom. Then at least three other adults come in and look at Gabe; some kneel down to get closer to him.
Eventually, Gabe is able to stand up and leave with one adult, assistant principal Jeff McKenzie.
According to the boy’s family lawyer, Jennifer Branch, the school told Cornelia Reynolds that her son had fainted; there was no mention of the attack in the bathroom. But school officials maintain that the nurse told Reynolds to take Gabe to the hospital, though she says they never mentioned it.
“If the school had told her what had happened to him in the bathroom, that he was unconscious for such a long period of time, she would have taken him to the hospital immediately, reported that to the medical professionals, and she would have the called police.”—Jennifer BranchAnd now, the Cincinnati Public Schools superintendent has announced that, after an investigation by the district, no linkage had been found between Gabriel’s death and bullying.
No link; what about the video? What about him being slammed against a wall? What about him being kicked and poked while he lay unconscious on the ground?
Well, the district maintains that the jerky quality of the video makes it hard to tell exactly what happened in that bathroom, but 8-year-olds don’t kill themselves for no reason.
And now, because of Detective Karaguleff’s investigation, Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco is reopening the investigation. When she first learned of Taye's death she was shocked that an 8-year-old would commit suicide and, at first, asked for his death to be investigated as a homicide. But the autopsy report concluded that Taye died from asphyxiation and the manner of death was, in fact, suicide.
"It was very hard for me to believe that an 8-year-old would even know what it means to commit suicide and so I asked Cincinnati police to treat this as a homicide until proven otherwise and investigate it fully."— Lakshmi Sammarco
I’m not exactly sure what’s going on here; a police detective sees a video with a boy, with dyed hair, beating up at least two other boys, one of whom falls unconscious to the floor, and yet the school district says the video evidence is inconclusive?
And why does an eight-year-old boy kill himself for apparently no reason? I mean, if Gabe wasn’t beaten in that bathroom, and if he wasn’t bullied at school upon his return, why take his own life?
The school, and the district need to be held accountable; if only for the fact that Gabe Taye—if there was no beating by the boy with the dyed hair, and how easy must it be to find that kid—collapsed, either from a beating or from a sudden fainting spell, in a bathroom, and several other boys kicked him while he was down.
Part of the school’s job is to protect these kids while they are in their care, and this school didn’t do that; they apparently looked the other way. And with this video evidence it just seems like the school is as responsible as those boys in Gabe Taye’s death.
He was just an eight-year-old kid using a bathroom.