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One year after Gabriel Taye's death, dad shares anti-bullying message

Posted at 4:35 PM, Jan 26, 2018

CINCINNATI -- Gabriel Taye's dad, Benyam, flew to Cincinnati from Atlanta this weekend to remember his son with their family. He came with a message about bullying for parents and children: it's time to stop it.

One year ago today, 8-year-old Gabriel took his own life after, his family says, he repeatedly endured bullying at school. The family visited his grave at Spring Grove Cemetery Friday afternoon.

Benyam Taye said the last year has been "very hard."

"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," Taye said. "Just even thinking about his was very hard."

While it's been a painful year for Taye, he said he wants to make sure Gabriel's story is not forgotten and makes a difference for others.

"Be more involved with the kids. Talk to them," Taye said. 

Taye and Gabriel's mother, Cornelia Reynolds, have filed a civil rights lawsuit against Cincinnati Public Schools over Gabriel's death. They say their son was bullied at Carson Elementary School and the school covered it up.

"Losing a child over bullying, that's hard," Taye said. 

The school district denies the family's claims. 

A still image from the surveillance video

On Jan. 24, 2017, school surveillance video shows Gabriel on the ground inside a restroom. Other children appear to kick him. He laid there unconscious for seven minutes before an adult showed up to help. 

"He never talked about it," Taye said. "He kept everything to himself as if it was natural to go to school and be bullied."

The day after that incident, Taye said Gabriel left him a phone message, his last recorded words: "I love you no matter what. I hope you be safe. And, just know I love you. Bye."

Twenty-four hours later, Gabriel took his own life at home. 

Bullying records kept by the school district show zero bullying incidents in the months leading up to Gabriel's death. But earlier this month, the 9 On Your Side I-Team uncovered errors on some of the school district's bullying reports for all schools going back to 2014. 

MORE: In past reports on bullying, Cincinnati Public Schools parents weren't getting the whole picture

Superintendent Laura Mitchell previously said the school district will audit the reports going back to 2014, correct them and make them all public because of the I-Team's investigation. A district spokesperson said Friday that school officials are meeting about the issue next week. 

Taye wants other parents, children and teachers to hear Gabriel's story and take bullying seriously.

"We should first acknowledge bullying is real," he said. "And then take steps to prevent them again and again, 'cause these kids are just young."