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Police video shows non-binary teen Nex Benedict, who died a day later, describe fight in high school bathroom

By Sara Smart and Steve Almasy, CNN

(CNN) — Body camera video released by police in Oklahoma shows a teenager and their guardian speaking with an officer about a fight at a high school, giving more insight into a reported altercation that preceded the 10th grader’s death.

Nex Benedict, whose family and friends say identified as nonbinary, died February 8, a day after they told their family they were involved in a fight with others at Owasso High School.

It is not clear if or how the fight contributed to Nex’s death. Their cause of death has yet to be determined, but an early autopsy finding Wednesday showed they did not die as a result of trauma, according to police. Toxicology results and other test results are pending, authorities added.

The Owasso Police Department on Friday night released 911 calls, body camera footage and surveillance video from the incident that has LGBTQ+ advocates seeking answers.

Body camera video from February 7 shows an Owasso police officer interacting with Nex and their guardian, Sue Benedict, in a hospital after the fight in a school bathroom between two groups of students.

Nex tells the officer they didn’t know the other girls “I don’t know their names, I don’t know them,” but the girls had ridiculed the way they dressed before. Sue Benedict says in the prior week, she had counseled Nex to just ignore the three girls. Nex says they didn’t see the point of reporting the previous verbal abuse to school officials.

Nex says the day of the fight, they went to the bathroom “and I was talking with my friends, they were talking with their friends and we were laughing. And they had said something like, ‘Why do they laugh like that?’ And they were talking about us in front of us.”

In response to those comments, Nex tells the officer they poured water from their water bottle on the students and that’s when things escalated. They came at Nex and grabbed at their hair, Nex says. Nex was then able to grab one of the girls and threw her into a paper towel dispenser, they say. Nex eventually got thrown onto the ground and the other students proceeded to beat them up, Nex says in the video.

“They got my legs out from under me and got me on the ground and started beating the sh*t out of me,” Nex says.

One of Nex’s friends tried to help, but Nex blacked out and isn’t sure what happened, they say.

The officer then advises Nex and Sue Benedict that the courts could view throwing liquid on someone as assault and as the action that started the altercation.

Eventually the Benedicts decide not to seek charges.

The physical altercation was broken up by students and a faculty member, police have said. All students walked to the assistant principal’s office and the nurse’s office, police said, adding the investigation is ongoing.

911 call: Nex ‘not doing good at all’

Police on Friday also released surveillance video that shows a group of students who make their way from the high school cafeteria to a restroom.

Nex is seen on the video filling up a bottle at a water fountain outside the restroom, the video shows, then enters the restroom with two other students and eventually, all walk out of the restroom.

Another video shows Nex being escorted by the school’s security officer to the nurse’s office and then to the principal’s office. They are then seen leaving the school with their guardian.

In one of two 911 calls that were released, Benedict – Nex’s guardian – requests an officer come to the hospital to meet them on the day of the fight.

The second call is from the next day where Benedict explains Nex is having a medical emergency. Benedict says Nex is “not doing good at all” and was breathing, but their eyes were rolling back.

Owasso Public Schools said last week it cannot share all details about the incident, but confirmed a “physical altercation occurred in a restroom” that was broken up by other students and a staff member. The district said no ambulance was called, but “it was recommended to one parent that their student visit a medical facility for further examination.”

The school district said, “Due to federal privacy laws, we are unable to disclose the exact nature of disciplinary action taken against any student.”

A GoFundMe has been established on behalf of Nex and their family.

The Benedict family said in a statement Wednesday that while the investigation is ongoing, the early details about the incident are “troubling at best.”

“We urge those tasked with investigating and prosecuting all potentially liable parties to do so fully, fairly and expediently,” the family said. “The Benedicts know all too well the devastating effects of bullying and school violence, and pray for meaningful change wherein bullying is taken seriously and no family has to deal with another preventable tragedy.”

Nex’s death comes amid sharp criticism by LGBTQ+ advocates of Oklahoma officials for actions perceived as targeting LGBTQ+ residents.

The state legislature passed a “bathroom bill” in 2022 requiring all preK-12 schools to require students use the restroom and locker rooms of the sex designated on their birth certificates. Last year, Gov. Kevin Stitt issued an executive order requiring government agencies to identify people exclusively by narrow definitions of “male” and “female.”

Nationwide, at least 510 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in state legislatures last year — a record, according to American Civil Liberties Union data.

CNN’s Andy Rose, Whitney Wild, Taylor Romine and Caroll Alvarado contributed to this report.

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