School officials never told the mother of an 8-year-old Ohio boy who killed himself that another student had thrown him against the wall two days earlier and knocked him unconscious in an attack recorded by a surveillance video, attorneys for the boy’s mother said Thursday.
The 8-year-old hanged himself with a necktie in the bedroom of his Cincinnati home on Jan. 26. School officials called the boy’s mother the day her son was bullied and said he had fainted, attorney Carla Leader told The Associated Press.
“They didn’t tell her the whole story,” Leader said. “The school also said his vitals were fine and he was alert.”
The mother learned of the bullying and the surveillance video after her attorneys obtained a Cincinnati police investigative file over her son’s death. The file included a copy of a Feb. 3 email from a homicide detective to an assistant principal at Carson Elementary School and other Cincinnati school officials describing what he saw on the video obtained from the school district’s security department.
Cincinnati Public Schools, in a statement issued Thursday, did not address the allegation that officials at the elementary school didn’t tell the boy’s mother what had happened. School district spokeswoman Janet Walsh said the detective “mischaracterized the events in the video,” the existence of which was first reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Leader said she watched the surveillance video and that it shows another boy acting aggressively toward students. When the 8-year-old approached him and tried to shake his hand, the boy threw him against the wall, knocking him unconscious, Leader said.
Other students stepped over the boy while others poked him with their feet as he lay unconscious for 7½ minutes before an assistant principal and then a school nurse came to his aid, Leader said. The mother came to get the 8-year-old after the school called her.
The mother took him to a hospital that evening after the boy vomited and complained of stomach pains. Doctors said he had a stomach virus and sent him home. Neither doctors nor the boy’s mother knew what had happened earlier that day, her attorneys said.
The ages of the other children involved or present at the attack were not immediately available. The elementary school’s website shows that it serves children from prekindergarten through the sixth grade and has 750 students.
The Cincinnati Public School statement provides a different version of events. It says that “while we are concerned about the length of time that (the boy) lay motionless and the lack of adult supervision at the scene,” school administrators followed protocol by having the nurse evaluate him. The boy’s mother was asked to pick him up and take him to a hospital “to be checked out,” the statement said.
The mother’s attorneys said her sister, who was caring for the boy while she was at work that night, called to tell her the boy had been vomiting.
Leader described the boy as a “happy-go-lucky kid” who had shown no signs of mental issues. Leader said the boy came home from school on Jan. 26, spoke with his mother and went into his bedroom. She later discovered him hanging from his bunk bed.
The email from the homicide detective, which was shared with The Associated Press, describes what he saw in the surveillance video. The detective said it appeared that the “primary agitator” hit one child in the stomach, sending him to the floor on hands and knees. The 8-year-old then approached the aggressor and tried to shake his hand but was pulled to the floor, the detective wrote.
The aggressor “appears to celebrate and rejoice in his behavior as (the boy) lay motionless. For many minutes, many students step over, point, mock, nudge, kick” the boy, the email said.
The detective told school officials that while he had concerns about the bullying, which could be considered a criminal assault, he added that the school would be better suited to handle the situation because of the children’s ages.