Gabriel Taye's family just gained a famous ally in the fight against bullying

Bengal Carlos Dunlap runs anti-bullying campaign
Posted at 3:02 PM, Dec 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-23 08:21:00-05

Editor's note: This story has been corrected. An earlier version included an allegation against teachers that is not supported by the claims in the lawsuit or the video.

CINCINNATI -- The story of 8-year-old Gabriel Taye's death by suicide gained momentum several months after his death.

Taye's mother, Cordelia Reynolds, said her son was bullied at school and the bullying led to his suicide. Surveillance video showed Taye on the floor of the Carson Elementary School bathroom two days before his suicide; Reynolds said the video showed a child slam her son to the ground and several children "stomp" on him, but the school says Taye fainted.

Gabriel Taye

"I will fight every day, every second of every minute," she said. "I am my son's voice and it will be heard. As Gabe's mother, it's my obligation to make sure that this will never happen again. People need to know the truth and help fix this (bullying) epidemic in our society by spreading awareness and speaking up."

Reynolds sued Cincinnati Public Schools and Taye's death was reexamined by the Hamilton County coroner in search of any signs of bullying. The investigation was closed and was ruled a suicide (no mention of bullying was present in the death certificate). The lawsuit is still pending.

Now, nearly a year later, a new ally is working to end bullying in Taye's name and memory: Carlos Dunlap, defensive end for the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Carlos Dunlap Foundation already works to "provide children with engaging and enriching activities to help them learn and grow," according to its website. Initiatives include ACT prep, sports camps and birthday parties for homeless children.

For the 2017 season, Dunlap's foundation took an anti-bullying campaign to AFC cities during Bengals away games, as well as four Cincinnati events.

Dunlap said when he heard Taye's story, his heart sank.

"Last off-season I heard about what happened with Gabe Taye," he said. "For me to hear the details about what happened -- to be a kid at that age, going through something, for him to be that alone to take his own life -- I think that was something that could easily be prevented if he had help. Or if we bring awareness to the situation."

Dunlap said he's most bothered that no students or teachers seemed to help Taye in the days between the bathroom incident and his death.

"An incident at school happened two days before. That's two days that somebody could've stepped in, reached out to him, did something to change his mind or give him a more positive outlook on his situation," Dunlap said. "It may have prevented what happened."

Dunlap has worked with the Taye family to collaborate on anti-bullying initiatives.

"We so appreciate what Carlos has done for our family and for millions of kids in the future," Benyim Taye, Gabriel's father, said.

"Gabe's family, in mourning, is determined to leave a legacy so no one else suffers this unbearable loss of an innocent 8-year-old," Michele Young, attorney for the Taye family, said.

Dunlap said the anti-bullying initiative is more popular than he could have imagined.

"I've always wanted to use my platform for the good of others," he said. "I didn't realize how many people were affected by bullying when I first started it. To see the reaction, the constant DMs, the emails, the tweets... People see me in public and talk about what they went through. All kinds of people, and it really hits home."

Dunlap said he's not trying to raise money -- he wants to raise awareness.

"We feel like it's something that could be easily eliminated if people were more aware or acknowledge it. People are aware that bullying is going on, but they don't do anything about it. That's what we're trying to encourage -- challenge people to do something about it."

Taye's mother, Cornelia, said she was grateful for the attention Dunlap was drawing to her son's case.

"Children really admire athletes and monitor what they do on and off of the field," she said. "Kids love to copy, so hopefully they will follow his lead and take a stand against bullying."