CINCINNATI — An 8-year-old boy shown on surveillance video being knocked to the floor unconscious at school two days before he killed himself told staff he had fainted and never said he had been bullied or assaulted, a school spokeswoman said Friday.
Gabriel Taye's mother didn't learn of the bullying until her attorneys saw a copy of an email written by a Cincinnati police homicide detective in an investigative file that describes the scene outside a boys' bathroom, her lawyers said. The attorneys have questioned why the mother was told he fainted on Jan. 24 when the video shows he had been injured by another boy at Carson Elementary School.
The Hamilton County coroner said she is reopening the investigation into Gabriel's suicide. He hanged himself with a necktie in the bedroom of his Cincinnati apartment on Jan. 26.
The school spokeswoman said administrators weren't aware of the recording until days later when the detective investigating Gabriel's suicide requested videos from security officials.
The district released copies of a choppy 24-minute-long video that shows one boy bullying other students and then, according to the mother's attorneys, pushing Gabriel into a wall when he tried to shake the boy's hand and knocking him unconscious. The spokeswoman said it's unclear from the video what happened to Gabriel at that moment.
"It is our firm position that the allegations portrayed in the media are not supported by the video," the district said in a statement released later Friday. The release also noted that police reviewed the video and no charges were filed.
An assistant principal arrived about 4½ minutes after Gabriel fell to the floor, followed by other school employees and the school nurse, who helped him to his feet. He was on the floor just over seven minutes.
Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco told Cincinnati radio station WLW on Thursday that she asked police for a full investigation to determine whether there were 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 WLW.
District officials and attorneys for Gabriel's mother have disputed what the mother was told the day Gabriel was knocked unconscious.
The district said administrators asked Cornelia Reynolds, Gabriel's mother, to pick him up from school and take him to a hospital. Her attorneys counter that Reynolds decided on her own to pick him up and took him to the hospital after her sister, who was babysitting while Reynolds was at work, called to say Gabriel had vomited and was complaining of stomach pains.