Hamilton County prosecutor could recommend charges after viewing school fight video

Gabriel Taye hanged himself two days later
Posted at 1:35 PM, May 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-16 06:36:36-04

CINCINNATI -- Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said Friday he might recommend filing criminal charges against teachers who overlooked the unconscious body of an 8-year-old boy after he collapsed in a bathroom at Carson School.

Cincinnati school officials released a surveillance video Friday showing the disturbing incident involving Gabriel Taye two days before he hanged himself.

The video, from a hallway camera at Carson School, shows Taye pulled to the ground by another student in a bathroom. His legs are visible in the bathroom doorway. Taye remains on the ground as other boys come and go from the bathroom, in some cases stepping over him.

MORE: Coroner asks police to reopen investigation, wants to know if bullying led to boy's suicide

At one point, an adult is visible in the hallway, apparently unaware Taye is unconscious just a few feet away.

Gabriel Taye

The edited video initially supplied by Cincinnati Public Schools ends before an adult finds Taye. In a second, longer version of the video CPS released about an hour later, Gabriel can been seen on the ground alone for some time before another child brings an adult. Eighteen children walked by Gabriel's motionless body. He remained there for more than four minutes before a 19th child appeared with an adult behind him.

"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," CPS said in a written statement Friday. "As all are aware, no charges resulted from that investigation. We have uploaded the video, in its entirety, blurring our faces of the students who appear to protect their privacy."

WCPO managers reviewed this video closely and discussed whether we should publish and air this video. We felt this video added to the public knowledge about what happened in this case. We believe parents and members of the community have the right to important information that helps them understand how safe students at local schools are.

Taye's cause of death had originally been ruled suicide after he hanged himself at home on Jan. 26. But Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco has reopened the case to see whether there were any other contributing factors that led to Taye's suicide.

There is no timeline for when the new autopsy will be done.

"Our hearts are broken by the loss of this child, and our thoughts are with his parents and extended family," the district said in its statement. "He was an outstanding young man, and this is a great loss for his family and our school community."

Before the video was released, different people who had seen it gave varying accounts of what happened. A police detective wrote in an email it appeared to show one boy picking on Taye and several other children, according to Carla Leader, an attorney for the Taye family.

Taye reached out to shake the boy's hand and then was pulled to the ground and remained there, unconscious, for about seven-and-a-half minutes, she said.

Leader said it was unclear if Taye hit his head on the wall or on the floor, but said the video shows the other students pointing, laughing and kicking Taye before school staff found and revived him.

But Cincinnati Public Schools released a statement Thursday saying that the video did not show other students beating Gabriel. 

It's hard to say exactly what happened to Gabriel while he was on the ground because of the video's choppy quality. 

"It is our firm position that the allegations portrayed in the media are not supported by the video," the district said in its statement Friday.

About a dozen people, mostly parents, showed up in front of Carson School Friday morning with signs to protest bullying. One of them, Kathryn Lundy, said she pulled her two children from the school two years ago because of bullying.

"We all need to share our support as parents," she said.

Another concerned parent, Carolyn Emery, said she has a 9-year-old daughter who attends Carson and that bullying is a chronic problem there.

"My daughter cries every morning that she doesn't want to come to school," Emery said.

A district-wide bullying report shows zero bullying incidents were reported at Carson School in the six months before Gabriel's death. That's down from seven incidents during the entire 2014-15 school year. 

The district said they were reviewing with faculty and staff the procedures regarding adult supervision in the restrooms.