Nex Benedict, nonbinary teen who died day after school fight, describes altercation in police footage

Written by on February 24, 2024

Oliver Helbig/Getty Images

(OWASSO, Okla.) — Newly released body camerage footage shows Nex Benedict, a nonbinary 16-year-old who died one day after a physical altercation with several other students in a bathroom at their Oklahoma high school, describing what led up to the fight during an interview with police from the hospital.

While lying on a gurney in the hours after the Feb. 7 fight at Owasso High School, Nex Benedict told a school resource officer, Caleb Thompson, that they had poured water on three students who were making fun of the way they and their friends laughed and dressed, the footage released Friday by the Owasso Police Department shows.

“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,” the teen said in the 21-minute video about the students she had an altercation with. “And so I went up there and I poured water on them. And then all three of them came at me.”

The teen told the officer that they blacked out during the ensuing physical altercation.

“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 … beating the s— out of me,” Nex Benedict said. “And then my friends tried to jump in and help but I’m not sure, I blacked out.”

Nex Benedict said that they didn’t know the names of the students but the group had been “antagonizing” them in the days leading up to the fight. When asked by Thompson why they didn’t alert school administrators, she said they “didn’t really see the point” but had told their mother.

In the video, the teen’s mother, Sue Benedict, told Thompson she was “very mad” and “wanted something done” about the altercation. The mother called 911 after taking the teen to the hospital to report that her child was attacked at school, according to newly released 911 records.

While discussing the logistics of filing a report on the fight, Thompson told the two that Nex Benedict “essentially started it” by throwing the water.

“The way the courts are going to look at it is it’s a mutual fight,” he said. “Both parties are victims, but both parties are also suspects in this.”

Thompson advised that they consider whether they want to press charges and said he would follow up the next day and proceed from there.

The teen died on Feb. 8, a day after the altercation. On a 911 call made that day around 1 p.m. local time, Sue Benedict can be heard asking for an ambulance because the teen’s hands were “posturing.” Their breathing was shallow and their eyes were “kind of rolling back,” she said.

Police have said that preliminary information shows that the teen’s death was not a result of physical trauma from the altercation. The cause of death is pending until toxicology results and other testing results are completed, police said.

A final cause and manner of death will be determined by the State Medical Examiner’s Office.

An investigation by Owasso Police is ongoing. Once concluded, the case will be forwarded to the FBI for a “complete and thorough review,” the police department said.

While awaiting the full results of the autopsy, the teen’s family is calling on “all school, local, state and national officials to join forces to determine why this happened, to hold those responsible to account and to ensure it never happens again.”

“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,” the Benedict family said in a statement to ABC News.

The Owasso Police Department has said Owasso High School and Owasso Public Schools have been cooperative in the investigation.

Owasso Public Schools declined to comment on the investigation into the teen’s death, but told ABC News in a statement that the “safety and security of our students is our top priority and we are committed to fostering a safe and inclusive environment for everyone.”

“Bullying in any form is unacceptable,” the statement read. “We take reports of bullying very seriously and have policies and procedures in place to address such behavior.”

The teen’s death has sparked calls against anti-LGBTQ bullying, including by Vice President Kamala Harris.

“My heart goes out to Nex Benedict’s family, friends, and their entire community,” Harris said on Friday. “To the LGBTQI+ youth who are hurting and are afraid right now: President Joe Biden and I see you, we stand with you, and you are not alone.”

The Human Rights Campaign is demanding federal investigations into whether protections for LGBTQ students were violated in the case. The organization sent letters to the Department of Education and the Department of Justice asking for a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding their death.

The incident has also struck a chord nationwide with 2SLGBTQ groups and allies who are demanding answers regarding the circumstances around Nex’s death. 2SLGBTQ includes Two Spirit, an umbrella term used to describe a third gender in Native and Indigenous communities. Sue Benedict is a registered member of the Choctaw Nation.

Local organizations — including Transgender Advocacy Coalition of Oklahoma, Freedom Oklahoma, and Oklahomans for Equality — are holding vigils across the state and country throughout the weekend so the 2SLGBTQ community can honor the teen’s memory.

A student walkout against bullying is also planned for Monday at Owasso High School.

ABC News’ Kiara Alfonseco, Tristan Maglunog and Erica Morris contributed to this report.

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