CINCINNATI - Five things to know about developments in the Jan. 26 suicide death of the 8-year-old Carson Elementary School student:
1. Video to be released. Cincinnati Public Schools, after initially refusing, said Thursday it would release the security camera video from inside Carson Elementary School that captured an assault on the 8-year-old boy in a school restroom two days before his death by suicide. An outside vendor is editing the video to blur faces of children to protect their identities. System spokeswoman Janet Walsh said the video would be released "when it’s ready,” possibly later Thursday or Friday.
Also Thursday, Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco told a 700-WLW radio program that her office is reopening the investigation into the child's death.
2. ‘Concerned’ about the delay. Walsh released a school system statement expressing concern over the delay at Carson Elementary of adults in responding to the 8-year-old child, who the statement identified as Gabriel Taye. A Cincinnati Police homicide detective, Eric Karaguleff, viewed the video Feb. 1, a week after Gabriel's death. In a Feb. 3 report to Carson Elementary and CPS officials, he described how a Carson student in the bathroom yanked Gabriel to the ground, then celebrated his action. Then for nearly 5 minutes, the police detective reported, other students “step over, point, mock, nudge, kick, etc.,” Gabriel as he lay still. Only after that did an assistant principal rush in to attend to the boy.
The CPS statement said, “While we are concerned about the length of time that Gabriel lay motionless and the lack of adult supervision at the scene, when school administrators became aware of the situation they immediately followed protocol by calling the school nurse to evaluate Gabriel. 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.”
3. Challenging what the school said. Cincinnati lawyer Jennifer Branch, representing the boy’s mother, fired back Thursday at that statement that the school nurse urged the mother to take the child to the hospital. “On the eve of Mother’s Day, it is unfortunate that CPS chose to blame Gabe's mother for not taking him to the hospital after he was injured at school. No one from CPS told Gabe's mother that she needed to take him to the hospital. The nurse’s notes verify this. In fact, if his mother had been told that (he) was assaulted and was unconscious for over seven minutes on the bathroom floor, she would have taken him to the hospital and not let him return to Carson. It is helpful that CPS did not deny that Carson officials withheld this vital information from Gabe's mother.”
Hours after the Jan. 24 assault, in the evening, when the boy vomited and complained of nausea, his mother took him to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The diagnosis was the stomach flu. Gabriel did not go to school Jan. 25 but did Jan. 26. Later that night, he came home and hanged himself.
Gabriel's mother has declined interview requests this week, but in January, a few days after her son’s death, she told a Cincinnati television station that her son had been bullied at Carson Elementary. The school system responded then by saying there had been no reports of bullying at Carson between August and December 2016.
4. No charges in the case. The CPS statement Thursday said, “Though the connection between this incident at school and Gabriel's suicide are not clear, the district shared this video with police investigators at the time of the incident. Their investigation has concluded and no charges were filed.”
Cincinnati police declined further comment on its handling of the matter because Sammarco has reopened the investigation by her office.
Gabriel's death comes amid an outbreak of youth suicide in Hamilton County — 13 deaths in 2016 and seven so far this year. Experts said bullying can be a risk factor for a child or adult who is having mental health issues and suicidal thoughts.
5. CPS: Others did not beat the child. The CPS statement also took issue with Karaguleff’s characterization of the video and with The Enquirer’s reporting. “The article suggests that other students were beating (the boy) during this incident, a description that video evidence does not support. The article also portrays other students in the video as ‘aggressors.’ Video evidence does not support this characterization.”
The police report and The Enquirer story never used the term "aggressors."
“We will continue working to determine all the facts surrounding that incident but remain confident that The Cincinnati Enquirer and the Cincinnati Police Department detective have mischaracterized the events in the video.”
Editor's note: The Enquirer had previously declined to identify the child, but after the school system identified him by name in its Thursday statement, the mother released his name.
Copyright: The Cincinnati Enquirer