Given his young age, the circumstances of his death and, now, the context surrounding it, Gabriel Taye’s death is the kind that sticks with you. In January, the 8-year-old was found dead after he hanged himself with his necktie in his Cincinnati home, reports CNN.
School officials have now released a 24-minute video that captures an incident Taye was involved in days before that impacts the conversation of what led to his death.
NBC reports the video shows Taye approaching a larger student in a school bathroom for a handshake after he pushed another student. The larger student then grabbed Taye by the arm and pushed him against the wall. Taye then fell to the floor where he remained, motionless, as students poked and kicked him until a group of adults arrived on the scene moments later.
“I wanted to bring to your attention some things I saw in the video. I saw some concerning events in the video and I don’t even have a child at the school,” a detective wrote in an email to school officials after reviewing the footage.
“I witnessed behavior that in my belief is bullying and could even rise to the level of criminal assault but due to the apparent age of the children involved, my current opinion is it could be better dealt with appropriately at the school level.”
The video ends with Taye rising to his feet and walking out of the bathroom with the adults. He was then taken to the school nurse who called his mother, Cornelia Reynolds, to come get him. Reynolds and her attorney, Jennifer Branch, claim they weren’t made aware of the video or the incident until recently.
“I am my son’s voice and it will be heard,” Reynolds said in the statement. “As Gabe’s mother, it is my obligation to make sure that this will never happen again.”
This is where stories of what happened next begin to diverge. Reynolds said she was told her son’s vitals were fine, but that he should be taken to a hospital because he fainted. School officials attest that staff said no such thing.
“The school nurse checked Gabriel’s vital signs, which were normal. She also contacted Gabriel’s mother and asked her to pick him up and take him to the hospital to be checked out,” said Cincinnati Public Schools in a statement.
Taye stayed home from school the following day but returned the one after that. His mother found him that afternoon.
Many question if Taye’s death was by suicide, especially because of his young age.
“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,” Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco said in a radio interview.
Is suicide at such a young age shocking? Absolutely. Is it heartbreaking? Unbearably so. Is it impossible? Sadly, no. This shows just how harmful bullying and harassment can be.