Oklahoma student describes school fight the day before their death in new video


An Oklahoma student who died the day after a fight at school told police they threw water at three students who had been bullying them and that the students responded by beating them, according to video police released Friday.

The student who died, Nex Benedict, is seen in the video telling an officer that they didn’t know the three students who “jumped” them in the bathroom.

Police also released audio of a 911 call from Nex’s mother in which she said the 16-year-old’s breathing was shallow and their hands were “posturing,” which refers to an involuntary movement that can indicate abnormal brain activity.

The video offers a glimpse into the moments before Nex’s death on Feb. 8, which has prompted vigils across the country, thousands of social media posts and demands for justice from LGBTQ people, some of whom believe that Oklahoma’s anti-LGBTQ policies contributed to an unsafe school climate for students like Nex.

There have been more questions than answers in Nex’s case, including whether the fight caused the student’s death, why the school didn’t contact police following the fight, and even how Nex identified within the LGBTQ community.

Sue Benedict, Nex’s mother, told The Independent that Nex “did not see themselves as male or female. Nex saw themselves right down the middle.” The family continues to use they/them pronouns for Nex in statements.

The Owasso Police Department said in a statement Wednesday that preliminary information from an autopsy report shows that Nex’s death was not the result of trauma. A toxicology exam is still pending, and an official autopsy will be released later.

Police released a series of videos Friday that show the entrance of the school bathroom in the minutes leading up to and following the fight; a school security officer escorting Nex to the nurse’s office; Sue walking from the school to her car with Nex; and a police officer interviewing Nex and Sue at Bailey Medical Center after the fight. They also released audio of Sue’s call to Owasso police after she took Nex to the hospital following the fight and audio of Sue’s 911 call on Feb. 8 just prior to Nex’s death.

The various pieces of footage shows Nex walking to the school nurse’s office with a school security officer, stopping at a doorway and swaying at one point.

Sue Benedict called police from Bailey Medical Center at 3:31 p.m. on Feb. 7, and an officer interviewed Nex and Sue at the hospital for about 15 minutes, according to body camera footage.

During that interview, Nex told the officer that they met the students in in-school detention, where they had spent the week due to having a vape pen at school. They said the three students had been picking on them and their friends due to the way they dressed, and then when Nex went into the bathroom one of the three students said “something like, ‘Why do they laugh like that.’”

“And so I went up there and I poured water on them, and then all three of them came at me,” Nex told the officer in the video. “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 said the girls started beating Nex and then Nex blacked out.

Sue Benedict told the officer she was angry that the school didn’t call police, and the officer told her, “Any criminal-type action, the school is supposed to give us a call.” The officer said maybe the school “forgot or had other things going on” and that Sue could have called police while at the school.

The officer said he can “do a report for assault and battery against the three students,” if that was what Sue wanted, then added: “The courts are going to look at it as it’s a mutual fight” because Nex first “assaulted” the three students by throwing the water.

“You made the first jab. It doesn’t make it right, but they defended themselves,” the officer said. Sue Benedict declined to file charges at the time.

In her 911 call the next day, she said she was worried Nex had a brain injury from the school fight. She said Nex’s eyes were rolled in the back of their head and that the teen’s breathing was shallow, but she didn’t start performing CPR because she didn’t think it was necessary, adding that she went to nursing school.

Nex was transported to St. Francis Children’s Hospital and pronounced dead.

In a statement Tuesday, Owasso Public Schools said it followed all district protocols, including informing the parents/guardians of students involved in a physical altercation that they have the option to file a police report.

“Should they choose to file a police report, school resource officers are made available to the parents/guardians either at that time or they can schedule an appointment, if they choose, at a later date,” the district said. “These practices were followed during this incident.”

The district didn’t immediately return a request for additional comment.

The Benedict family said that they were “independently interviewing witnesses and collecting all available evidence,” according to a statement released Wednesday by their attorney, Jacob Biby.

“While various investigations are still pending, the facts currently known by the family, some of which have been released to the public, are troubling at best,” the family said.

The family has not returned requests for additional comment.

Sarah Kate Ellis, the CEO of GLAAD, an LGBTQ media advocacy group, said “it is haunting to hear Nex Benedict, in their own words, describe how school and state leaders failed, at every level of leadership, to keep them safe from bullying and harm. Less than 24 hours later, Nex would collapse and die.”

“The release of the chilling 9-1-1 call by Nex’s mother, Sue Benedict, school surveillance video, and police body-cam footage of Nex in the emergency room recounting the brutal assault, all point to a clear and catastrophic cascade of failures from a school and state’s basic responsibility of safety and care for all young people,” Ellis said in a statement Saturday.

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