CINCINNATI (WLWT) – Days after 8-year-old Gabe Taye died by suicide last year, Cornelia Reynolds made it clear she would fight to find out what drove her son to such a dark place.
“I told my baby that I’m going to try my best to stay strong for him,” Reynolds said in late January 2017. “I’m gonna be his voice. Something is gonna get done. I promise you that.”
WLWT reports, in a federal complaint, attorneys for Reynolds claim Gabe had been aggressively and violently bullied. They point to an incident caught on camera as proof.
“We’re talking about third-graders,” attorney Jennifer Branch said. “They’re 8 years-old.”
The incident happened at Carson School in West Price Hill, two days before Gabe died.
Branch, who’s working on behalf of Gabe’s parents, said the video shows Gabe being knocked to the floor of a bathroom by another student. Gabe lay unconscious for seven minutes. Reynolds didn’t find out what happened until months after Gabe hung himself on his bunk bed. The discovery prompted a lawsuit against the Cincinnati Public School district that’s now unfolding in federal court.
“We need to get this case moving,” Branch said. “We need to get all the facts discovered.”
Gabe’s parents scored a legal victory in September when U.S. District Judge Timothy Black denied a motion by defense attorneys to have all the counts dismissed, but now they’re in a holding pattern.
“Delay is not helping the family,” Branch said.
What Branch calls a delay is the result of attorneys for CPS claiming the district should have statutory immunity and appealing judge Black’s decision to let the case proceed.
“They have the ability under state law to claim immunity from lawsuit, but all we have to prove is that they were reckless in what they did, and I think we’ve alleged that here,” Branch said.
WLWT investigator Todd Dykes contacted a CPS spokesperson for comment.
In a written statement, the spokesperson said, “CPS has filed an appeal with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Meyers v. Cincinnati Public Schools — the case arising out of the death of Gabriel Taye, a student at CPS’s Carson School. In the appeal, CPS will ask the appeals court to reverse the district court’s decision denying the school defendants’ claim of political subdivision immunity. Under Ohio law, political subdivisions including school districts are immune from being sued in most negligent and intentional tort cases. To avoid tax payer dollars from being spent unnecessarily on litigation, political subdivisions have the right to appeal immediately if immunity is denied. CPS will request the Court of Appeals to reconsider the district court’s decision denying CPS’s motion to dismiss. The appeal will involve written briefs being filed and an oral argument before the court. If CPS prevails on the appeal, the case will be dismissed. If the plaintiffs prevail, the case will return to the district court for discovery and a civil trial to determine liability.”
Also on Friday, Dykes learned the city of Cincinnati is now a defendant in the lawsuit. That’s because the nurse at Carson School who examined Gabe after he was found unconscious in the bathroom works for the city’s health department.
Dykes sought a response from the city. A spokesman declined to weigh in, citing the pending litigation.