Video shows Owasso nonbinary teen after attack in school bathroom, the day before their death

The Associated Press - February 24, 2024 12:41 pm

In this frame grab taken from body camera video provided by the Owasso, Okla., Police Department, an officer, hand at right, speaks to 16-year-old Nex Benedict, left, and their mother, Sue Benedict, at a hospital, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024. Sue says that Nex was knocked to the floor during a fight in a school bathroom earlier in the day. Nex died the following day. (Owasso Police Department via AP)

By KEN MILLER, PHILIP MARCELO, and JAMIE STENGLE Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A 16-year-old Oklahoma student who died the day after a fight in a high school bathroom was conscious and alert when telling police about the attack by three girls that occurred after the teen squirted them with water, according to police video released on Friday.

Nex Benedict’s mother called police to come to the hospital on February 7th after the teen was attacked at school in the Tulsa suburb of Owasso. Nex, who identified as nonbinary and used they/them pronouns, died the next day after their mother called emergency responders to their home, saying Nex’s breathing was shallow, their eyes were rolling back, and their hands were curled, according to audio also released by Owasso police.

In the video from the hospital the day of the altercation, Nex explains to an officer that the girls had been picking on them and their friends because of the way they dressed. Nex claims that in the bathroom the girls said “something like: why do they laugh like that,” referring to Nex and their friends.

“And so I went up there and I poured water on them, and then all three of them came at me,” Nex tells the officer while reclining in a hospital bed.

“They came at me. They grabbed on my hair. I grabbed onto them. I threw one of them into a paper towel dispenser and then they got my legs out from under me and got me on the ground,” Nex says in the video, adding that the girls then started beating Nex and they blacked out.

In the 911 call on February 8th, Nex’s mother, Sue Benedict, expressed concern about a head injury as she described Nex’s symptoms.

“I hope this ain’t from her head. They were supposed to have checked her out good,” said Sue Benedict, who remained calm during the call and said she had been to nursing school. Benedict said in a statement on a GoFundMe page set up to help cover funeral expenses that the family was still learning to use the teen’s preferred name and pronouns.

Paramedics responding to the family’s house performed CPR and rushed Nex to the hospital, where they later died.

In audio of the call Sue Benedict made to police on February 7th, she said she wanted an officer to come so she could file charges. The officer who responded can be heard in the hospital video explaining that Nex started the altercation by throwing the water and the court would view it as a mutual fight.

According to a police search warrant, Sue Benedict indicated to police on February 7th that she didn’t want to file charges at that time. Benedict instead asked police to speak to school officials about issues on campus among students.

The February 9th search warrant, which was filed with the court on February 21st, also shows that investigators took 137 photographs at the school, including inside the girl’s bathroom where the fight occurred. They additionally collected two swabs of stains from the bathroom and retrieved records and documents of the students involved in the altercation.

While the two-week-old warrant states that police were seeking evidence in a felony murder, the department has since said Benedict’s death was not a result of injuries suffered in the fight, based on the preliminary results of the autopsy. This comment has raised questions among concerned parties following the case, who have expressed hopes that the Department of Justice will investigate further.

The Owasso Police Department, which didn’t respond to multiple messages sent on Friday, has said it won’t comment further on the teen’s cause of death until toxicology and other autopsy results are completed.

Video released by police from the high school on February 7th shows students walking into and then out of a bathroom after stacking chairs on top of tables in a cafeteria. Six students are seen entering the bathroom before Nex, who stops at a water fountain and then enters the bathroom along with two other students. A faculty member is then seen going into the bathroom, and the students walk out.

There is no indication from the footage, which only shows the bathroom door and part of the cafeteria, of what occurred in the bathroom.

The school district has said the students were in the restroom for less than two minutes before the fight was broken up by other students and a staff member. Police and school officials have not said what provoked the fight.

The family, through their lawyer, declined to comment Friday on the search warrant. The attorney did not immediately offer any comment Friday on behalf of the family on the video and audio released. Earlier this week, they said they have launched their own independent investigation into what happened.

Vigils are planned over the weekend in Oklahoma for the teen.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday that she was “absolutely heartbroken” over Nex’s death.

“Every young person deserves to feel safe and supported at school,” Jean-Pierre said.

___

Marcelo reported from New York and Stengle reported from Dallas.

 

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