Two days after an 8-year-old Ohio boy was tormented by school bullies, being knocked unconscious and repeatedly kicked and harassed as he lay motionless on the ground by other schoolboys, he killed himself by hanging.
Security footage from Carson Elementary School reportedly shows young Gabriel Taye being knocked unconscious and repeatedly kicked over a period of five long minutes by fellow students on January 24, before being discovered by the assistant principal. After initially refusing to release the footage, authorities said Thursday they will make it public.
The attack on the young boy was described by a homicide detective from the Cincinnati Police as "criminal assault," if it weren't for the young ages of the children involved. "I witnessed behavior that in my belief is bullying and could even rise to the level of criminal assault," he said.
A lawyer representing Taye's mother, Jennifer Branch, said the school told Branch that Taye had merely fainted, never notifying her that her son was involved in the bullying incident where he was knocked unconscious.
When the footage of the incident was asked to be released, officials from Cincinnati Public Schools initially declined, citing federal privacy laws. But according to an updated report, the school has agreed to release the video.
After the young student's apparent suicide, an investigation was launched on February 3, about a week after the boy's death. "I saw some concerning events, and I don’t even have a child at that school," said veteran homicide detective Eric Karaguleff of the 18-minute video.
The detective then created a timeline of the incident. USA Today reports:
Eleven minutes in, a boy enters the restroom, wearing a red and gray coat “with dyed hair sorta O’Dell Beckham Jr. style,” in the manner of the professional football player. Six seconds later, kids flee the restroom. The boy in the red and gray coat hits another boy in the stomach, “sending him to the floor in all fours.” The assailant then threatens another boy.
Then the 8-year-old arrives “and appears to shake hands.” The boy in the red and gray coat yanks the 8-year-old to the ground and “appears to celebrate and rejoice in his behavior” as the victim lay motionless. For nearly five minutes after that, “Many students step over, point, mock, nudge, kick, etc.,” the 8-year-old boy. Finally, McKenzie rushes into the restroom and finds the boy.
Branch claims Taye's mother was told by Carson Elementary officials that her son had "fainted" on the day of the incident and was taken to the nurse's office. After picking up her son early from school, the mother claims Taye became nauseous and vomited twice. She then took the 8-year-old to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
"Cincinnati Children’s kept the boy until about 6 a.m. Jan. 25 and decided he was suffering from stomach flu, Branch said. Exhausted, the boy stayed home from school that day. He did go to school Jan. 26 and came home. Around 5:30 p.m., he went to his bedroom, knotted a loop in his necktie and hanged himself from his bunk bed," reports USA Today.
"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 called police," said Branch.
"That’s why this is so frustrating for her, not knowing what really happened in that school," she added.