CINCINNATI (AP) — A coroner has reopened an investigation into an 8-year-old boy's suicide, and his school district said Friday that it expects to release surveillance video that shows a bully knocking him unconscious two days before he killed himself.
A Hamilton County coroner's office spokesman said new evidence has prompted the reopening of the suicide investigation of Gabriel Taye, who hanged himself in his bedroom with a necktie on Jan. 26.
Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco told Cincinnati radio station WLW on Thursday that she asked police for a full investigation to determine whether there are contributing factors to Gabriel's suicide, WXIX-TV reported.
"It was very hard for me to believe that an 8-year-old would even know what it means to commit suicide," Sammarco told WLW.
Cincinnati police said in a statement that they would have no further comment about the case, and they directed question to the coroner's office. The coroner's spokesman said Friday that Sammarco wasn't available to discuss the investigation being reopened.
Cornelia Reynolds, Gabriel's mother, declined an interview Friday and referred questions to her attorneys. A woman who lives in the same Cincinnati apartment complex as Reynolds said Friday that her 13-year-old son sometimes played with Gabriel outside.
"I would see him and his mother racing from their car to the building laughing," Mildred White said.
According to her attorneys, Reynolds didn't learn of the bullying until the attorneys received a copy of a police investigative file that contained an email from a homicide detective to school officials describing the surveillance video. The school district on Thursday disputed some of the detective's descriptions but not the most crucial parts — the boy being knocked unconscious and the 7½-minute wait for an assistant principal and then a school nurse helping Gabriel.
Reynolds' attorneys also have viewed the video. They said it shows a boy acting aggressively toward students outside a school bathroom. It then shows Gabriel trying to shake the bully's hand and being thrown against a wall, knocking him unconscious, the attorneys said.
Attorney Carla Leader said the bully is then seen celebrating after knocking out Gabriel and that students step over him while others poke him with their feet as he lay unconscious. Reynolds picked up Gabriel from school that day after administrators called to say he had fainted but was now alert.
The district said administrators asked Reynolds to pick Gabriel up from school and take him to a hospital. The attorneys dispute that. They said Reynolds decided herself to pick him up from school and that she didn't take him to the hospital until her sister, who was baby-sitting while Reynolds was at work, called to say Gabriel had vomited and was complaining of stomach pains.
Leader said Gabriel had no history of mental health issues and described him as a happy-go-lucky kid. When his mother asked him what happened at school the day he was bullied, he said he didn't know, her attorneys said.
"He really didn't have any recollection of what had happened," said attorney Jennifer Branch, who also is representing Reynolds.