The loss of a child is something that no parent should ever have to experience. But for those that do, the only thing more painful than the unbearable grief is knowing that it could have been prevented.
On January 26, 2017, parents from Cincinnati, Ohio experienced every parent’s worst nightmare when they senselessly lost their 8-year-old. Nothing about the situation made sense to the parents until they saw security footage from their little boy’s school…
A Trip To The Nurse’s Office
On January 24, 2017, Cornelia Reynolds was contacted by her son’s school, Carson Elementary, in Cincinnati, Ohio. According to the school, 8-year-old Gabriel had passed out during the school day but seemed fine after he was taken to the nurse’s office.
Yet when Gabriel got home from school that afternoon, he complained that he was nauseous and that his stomach hurt. Cornelia started to worry since her son never normally complained and never pretended to be sick. At one point, the nausea got so bad that Gabriel couldn’t even stand…
The Hospital Trip
Cornelia decided it was time to get help, so she carried Gabriel to the hospital. After doctors helped soothe the nausea, Gabriel was allowed to go home. The next day, Cornelia let Gabriel stay home from school to let him rest.
The Last Day
On January 26, Cornelia asked Gabriel if he was ready to go back to school. He made no complaints, so Cornelia sent him back to school thinking it would be fine. That night, however, she would discover the truth about how Gabriel really felt…
The Usual Routine
That afternoon, Gabriel got home and went up to his room to do homework like he did every other day. Cornelia went up to his room to check on him before dinner, and when she opened up the door to his bedroom, she was horrified by what she saw.
The Devastating Discovery
Inside, the sweet 8-year-old was dead. He had ended his life by using a necktie to hang himself from his bunk bed. “Gabriel was a shining light to everyone who knew and loved him,” Cornelia said in a statement about her son…
A Stolen Life
“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,” Cornelia added about Gabriel’s senseless death.
Dr. Lakshimi Sammarco from the Hamilton County Coroner performed the autopsy on Gabriel and confirmed he’d committed suicide. Because of how young Gabriel was, police opened an investigation to figure out why an 8-year-old boy would want to end his life…
The Security Footage
A Cincinnati police homicide detective decided to take a look at security footage from the last few days that Gabriel attended Carson Elementary and was disturbed by what he saw. According to the detective, Gabriel had been brutally bullied by his classmates.
The bullying “could even rise to the level of criminal assault,” the investigator said after reviewing all the surveillance footage. As if the situation wasn’t tragic already, Gabriel’s mother and his father, Benyam Taye, had no idea their little boy was even being bullied…
Suffering In Silence
According to Gabriel’s parents, he never told them about anything and the school never notified them at any point to tell them that their 8-year-old was being bullied at school. “He never talked about it,” Benyam said. “He kept everything to himself as if it was natural to go to school and be bullied.”
The Truth Comes Out
The first time Cornelia or Benyam heard that Gabriel had been a victim of bullying from his classmates was after their lawyers reviewed police document from the investigation that described the disturbing scene caught on the security footage…
In the video, which was 24 minutes long, Gabriel was seen walking into the bathroom but was stopped by another student in the doorway. It appears that the boy shakes Gabriel’s hand and then pushes him to the ground. For the next 7 minutes, Gabriel can be seen lying motionless on the ground.
After Gabriel passed out, other students kicked, poked, and walked over him. Over 4 minutes later, an adult finally walked over to see what the commotion was about. After being unconscious for about 7 minutes, Gabriel finally woke up and was able to walk to the nurse’s office with teachers…
The School Speaks Out
“At no point did Gabriel indicate that he had been hit, yanked, pulled, pushed or assaulted in any way,” the school said in a statement. “He had no visible abrasions and there had been no report of a fight of any kind.” According to the school, Gabriel told the nurse he just fell.
Suing The School
In response to the unreported bullying, which drove the 8-year-old to commit suicide, Gabriel’s family filed a 41-page lawsuit for withholding information about the assault and covering up the violent environment in the school. While there were few reports of bullying from the district, the lawsuit detailed numerous occasions where students have been choked, threatened, punched, and harassed regularly.
Because the school rarely ever reported the violence, it “prevented his mother from seeking appropriate treatment. Had she known of the extreme violence at Carson, she never would have continued to send him to school there.”
The Cincinnati Public School district denied that there was a bullying problem at their school. “We are committed to student safety and ensuring that all CPS schools foster a positive, learning environment,” the school said. The district even went so far as to deny that Gabriel was bullied. “It is our firm position that the allegations portrayed in the media are not supported by the video.” Yet 2 days after, an 8-year-old killed himself…
A Red Flag
The day after the bullying incident, Gabriel left his dad an unusual voicemail. “I love you no matter what. I hope you be safe. And, just know I love you. Bye,” Gabriel said. Benyam had no idea what was to happen 24 hours later, but now he and Cornelia are fighting the school district to make sure no other child has to suffer like Gabriel did.
Fighting To End Bullying
“I can’t even put it in words — not being able to see your son again, not talk to him, not to buy stuff for him. Just even thinking about his was very hard,” Benyam said a year after Gabriel took his life. “Losing a child over bullying, that’s hard,” Taye said. “We should first acknowledge bullying is real. And then take steps to prevent them again and again, ’cause these kids are just young.”