No charges will be filed in fight involving nonbinary Oklahoma teen Nex Benedict, prosecutor says

TULSA, Oklahoma –

An Oklahoma district attorney said Thursday that he does not plan to file any charges in the case of Nex Benedict, the 16-year-old nonbinary Owasso teen whose death following a fight in a high school bathroom was ruled a suicide.

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said in a statement that after reviewing the Owasso Police Department’s investigation, he agreed with detectives’ assessment that the fight between the teenager and the three girls was an “example of mutual combat” and that no charges were filed. guaranteed.

“When I review a report and make the decision to file a charge, I must be convinced, like every prosecutor, that a crime was committed and that I have a reasonable belief that a judge or jury would be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt.” that a crime was committed. “It was committed,” Kunzweiler said. “From all the evidence gathered, this fight was an example of mutual combat.”

Kunzweiler also said Owasso police discovered a “suicide note” written by Benedict, although he declined to say what the note said. The state medical examiner determined last week that Benedict’s death in February was a suicide caused by a drug overdose.

“A significant part of the Owasso Police Department’s investigation was the discovery of some short notes, written by Benedict, that appeared to be related to the suicide,” Kunzweiler said. “The precise content of the suicide note is a personal matter that the family will have to address in the privacy of their own lives.”

An attorney for Benedict’s family, Jacob Biby, said he did not expect the family to comment Thursday on the district attorney’s decision. However, in a statement last week, they called on schools, administrators and lawmakers to come together and push for reforms that seek to end bullying.

“Reforms that create school environments built on the pillars of respect, inclusion and grace, and that aim to eliminate bullying and hate, are the types of change that everyone involved should be able to support,” Bendict’s family said .

The death of Benedict, who was non-binary, meaning he did not strictly identify as male or female, and used they/them pronouns, has served as a point of tension for LGBTQ+ rights groups over bullying and has drawn attention. the attention of the governor of Oklahoma and President Joe Biden.

In a video from the hospital on the day of the altercation, Benedict explains to an officer that the girls had been upset with them and their friends because of the way they dressed. Benedict claims that in the bathroom the students said “something like: why are you laughing like that?”, referring to Benedict and his friends.

“So I went up and poured water on them, and then the three of them came at me,” Benedict tells the officer from a hospital bed.

Paramedics responded to the family’s home and performed CPR before taking Benedict to hospital, where the teenager later died.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, the following resources may be available to you:

Trans lifeline: +1 877 330 6366

Wellbeing Together Canada: 1-866-585-0445

24-hour crisis line: 416 597 8808

Kids Helpline: 1-800-668-6868

National Residential School Crisis Line: +1 866 925 4419

Hope for Wellness Helpline for Indigenous Peoples (English, French, Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut): 1-855-242-3310

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