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Police release video, search warrant related to investigation of Nex Benedict's death

Nex Benedict, left, and their mother Sue Benedict speak with Owasso school resource officer Caleb Thompson on Feb. 7 at Bailey Medical Center after an alleged fight at Owasso High School.
Owasso Police Department
Screen Capture
Nex Benedict, left, and their mother Sue Benedict speak with Owasso school resource officer Caleb Thompson on Feb. 7 at Bailey Medical Center after an alleged fight at Owasso High School.

Owasso police have released materials that shed more light on the days before and after the death of 16-year-old Nex Benedict, an Owasso High School student who passed away earlier this month under mysterious circumstances.

Benedict, who identified as nonbinary, died on Feb. 8 after they got in a fight with other students inside a school bathroom. Police say preliminary autopsy results show Benedict didn’t die of trauma, although the full autopsy report has not yet been released.

In newly-released body cam video showing Benedict at the hospital after the Feb. 7 fight, they tell a school resource officer three girls had been picking on them because of how they dressed. Mother Sue Benedict said Nex was no longer able to ignore the bullying.

Nex Benedict told the officer they poured water on the three girls. After, there was a physical altercation involving shoving and hair-pulling.

“And then they got my legs out from under me, got me on the ground, and started 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.”

Officer Caleb Thompson responded that the courts would look at the situation as a mutual fight because Nex Benedict threw water.

“Both parties are victims, but both parties are also suspects in this,” Thompson said.

Thompson added that most instances of verbal bullying are “freedom of speech” and cannot be prosecuted.

“You can say mean, hurtful things all day long, and you’ve got to let it roll off your shoulder,” he said. “The moment someone retaliates or does something physically, or (makes) a directive threat, verbally, now you have something.”

Sue Benedict said she knew the girls accused of bullying her child, and that "it wasn't like (the stories) were together."

School district communication

In the bodycam video, Sue Benedict told Thompson the district said it would address the fight in coming days. Thompson acknowledged the fight had “criminal-type actions” and said the district is supposed to call OPD in such instances.

Thompson said the district “dropped the ball.”

Owasso Public Schools spokesperson Jordan Korphage said students involved in fights are told they may file a police report. They may then meet with a school resource officer.

Korphage said the district followed these practices in the aftermath of the fight, but said he had shared all the information he could when asked about Thompson’s assessment.

Police investigated 'foul play' after incident

In a search warrant requested Feb. 9, Owasso police detective Penny Hamrick asked to search the school for evidence because police suspected foul play in the death of Nex Benedict. The affidavit for the search warrant listed “murder” as the possible offense.

“The foul play mentioned was because (Nex) died and we didn’t know why,” said Lt. Nick Boatman.

Police took 137 pictures of the school, took two swabs from the bathroom and gathered records and documents from students for the investigation.

In a prepared statement Friday, Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said his office will “maintain the integrity of law enforcement’s investigation” in their decision whether or not to prosecute.

“This community, like any other community in the United States, deserves investigations of any allegation to be professional, objective, and not swayed by sentiments fueled by the passion of emotions which may be misinformed,” the statement reads.

Max Bryan is a news anchor and reporter for KWGS.
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