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Nex Benedict’s family questions police statement that trauma didn’t cause teen’s death

Author: Trudy Ring

The grandmother of Nex Benedict, the bullied nonbinary teen who died this month after being beaten at school in Oklahoma, is calling into question a police report that says Nex’s death did not result from trauma.

Sue Benedict, who was Nex’s adoptive mother, told the news site Popular Informationthat a statement released by the Owasso Police was a “big cover” and put out only as “something to calm the people.”

A police spokesman, however, confirmed to the site that there’s still a possibility of a murder charge.

Nex, 16, was in an altercation with three other students in a restroom at Owasso High School February 7 and was said to have suffered head trauma. Nex went to a hospital afterward and was released, but they went back the next day, when they died.

The police department released a statement Wednesday saying that preliminary findings after a complete autopsy indicate that trauma was not the cause of the teen’s death, seeming to suggest that injuries from the fight were not responsible. But the police report also noted that official confirmation of the cause of death would not come until after toxicology and other tests were completed. That could take several weeks.

Eventually, “everything will be brought to light, people will answer, and tell me why my child is not here,” Sue Benedict told the site.

Separately, the Benedict family released a statement through their lawyers to ABC News, saying, “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. We urge those tasked with investigating and prosecuting all potentially liable parties to do so fully, fairly and expediently. Notwithstanding, the family is independently interviewing witnesses and collecting all available evidence. The Benedict Family calls 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.”

“There are several aspects of the Owasso Police statement that raise serious questions,” Popular Information reports. “The statement paints the school’s response, which is part of the investigation, in a favorable light. But large sections of the Owasso Police’s February 21 statement were copied verbatim from a statement released by Owasso Public Schools on February 20.”

Lt. Nick Boatman, a spokesperson for the Owasso Police, admitted to the site that the police statement “kind of came across as us being a voice piece for the school.” Part of the reason for including the school system’s language, he said, was to show what actions school personnel had taken after the fight — interviewing all those involved and recommending that Benedict seek medical attention, although school officials did not call an ambulance.

Boatman said he did not contact Benedict’s family before releasing the statement, assuming the medical examiner would do that, but he then acknowledged the ME was unlikely to do so when only partial information was available. The department doesn’t usually release partial findings, but it did in this case because of the national attention Benedict’s death is receiving, he said.

He also said the ME did not say definitively that the fight did not cause the teen’s death. He went on to confirm that, as stated in an affidavit issued February 9, that it’s still possible that murder charges will be brought in the case.

Nex Benedict’s death has brought calls for a federal investigation and demands to support queer, trans, and nonbinary youth.

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Trudy Ring

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