Coroner to reopen case into 8-year-old's hanging after school releases video

Gabriel Taye's mother called him a "shining light" who is sorely missed.

ByABC News
May 12, 2017, 6:57 PM

— -- A county coroner in Ohio plans to take a new look at the hanging death of an 8-year-old boy, initially ruled a suicide in January, amid the release of surveillance video today showing him unconscious on a bathroom floor after an incident with another student.

Cincinnati Public Schools released the footage from Carson School on Friday.

Around the 13-minute mark, Gabriel Taye, 8, can be seen entering a boys bathroom at the school Jan. 24. As he walks into the restroom, he appears to shake another child's hand and then falls to the bathroom floor.

He lay on the floor unconscious for nearly eight minutes. His feet can be seen from the hallway camera. The video shows students entering and leaving the restroom. Some stop to look at Gabriel and to nudge him.

The minutes pass, with Gabriel's body alone on the floor until, finally, a child summons a school administrator to the restroom and the man tends to the boy.

Carla Leader, a lawyer for the family, told ABC Cincinnati affiliate WCPO-TV Thursday it was unclear on the video whether Gabriel had hit his head on the wall or the floor.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Gabriel's mother, Cornelia Reynolds, took him to the hospital for vomiting that evening and kept him home the next day. He returned to school Jan. 26.

That evening, two days after the bathroom incident, Gabriel hanged himself in a bedroom of his home. He was found by Reynolds.

Jennifer Branch, another lawyer for the family, said Reynolds had not been told of the alleged incident in the restroom. Branch said Reynolds had been told her son had fainted.

"There needs to be a lot more response in that school to what is going on and the parents need to know what's going on," Leader said. "I think that's a very big component."

Reynolds called Gabriel a "shining light to everyone who knew him and loved him" in a statement to ABC News Friday.

"We miss him desperately and suffer every day. His life was not only stolen from him, but from those of us who expected to watch him grow up and enjoy life. If I could, I would give anything to have him back. I feel he was cheated. I feel robbed. My only child, my best friend and my first true love isn't here with us physically but I know he's here in spirit," she said.

"I will fight every day, every second of every minute. I am my sons voice and it will be heard. As Gabe’s Mother, it's my obligation to make sure that this will never happen again. No this will not go away. People need to know the truth and help fix this epidemic in our society by spreading awareness and speaking up. Parents it's OK , to tell your children to reach for help when someone is hurting them, whether it's at school, outside, home, or anywhere. #Iam Gabe, #Gabe strong ?? , #Gabes Light,#Gabe's Way."

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The Cincinnati Police Department told ABC News in a statement: "On January 26th, 2017, The Cincinnati Police Department conducted an investigation into the death of Gabriel Taye. In light of the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office statement that they have reopened this death investigation, the Cincinnati Police Department does not believe it would be appropriate to comment at this time. Any questions regarding this matter should be directed to the Hamilton County Coroner's Office."

In a statement Friday to ABC News, Cincinnati Public Schools said, "Our hearts are broken by the loss of this child, and our thoughts are with his parents and extended family. He was an outstanding young man, and this is a great loss for his family and our school community."

"In an effort to be completely transparent, we are releasing the video that was reviewed as part of an investigation by the Cincinnati Police Department. As all are aware, no charges resulted from that investigation. We have uploaded the video, in its entirety, blurring out faces of the students who appear to protect their privacy. We ask that you review the video, in its entirety. It is our firm position that the allegations portrayed in the media are not supported by the video," the statement said. "Cincinnati Public Schools is reviewing with faculty and staff the procedures regarding adult supervision in the restrooms. We are committed to student safety and ensuring that all CPS schools foster a positive, learning environment," the statement said.

A spokesperson for the Hamilton County coroner said the office planned to re-examine the circumstances surrounding Gabriel's death. Cincinnati police have not filed charges in the case.

ABC News' Sabina Ghebremedhin, Abby Grossberg and Andy Fies contributed to this story.