No charges over Nex Benedict fight as district attorney claims it was ‘mutual combat’

No one will face charges over a fight transgender teenager Nex Benedict was involved in the day before his death, a district attorney has said. 

16-year-old Benedict, who, according to friends, was Two Spirit and used he/they pronouns, died on 8 February after being taken to hospital the day before, following an alleged altercation with three girls in the toilets at Owasso High School, in Oklahoma.

Last week, a partial autopsy report from the state’s chief medical examiner revealed that Benedict took his own life, with the cause of death being given as the combined drug toxicity. 

Benedict’s death created nation-wide and international headlines and has been a flashpoint for LGBTQ+ rights in Oklahoma, a state currently advancing bills aimed at stopping sex markers on birth certificates being changed and forcing schools to adopt policies that state “sex is an immutable biological trait”, and prohibiting “the use of pronouns or titles that do not correspond to a person’s sex”.

In a three-page letter announcing his decision on Thursday (21 March), Tulsa County district attorney Stephen Kunzweiler wrote that, based on evidence gathered, the “fight was an instance of mutual combat”. 

He went on to say: “I do not have a reasonable belief that the State of Oklahoma could sustain its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt if charges were presented for prosecution.

“An important part of the Owasso Police Department’s investigation was the discovery of some brief notes, written by Benedict, which appeared to be related to suicide. The precise contents are a personal matter which the family will have to address within the privacy of their own lives.

“Although the notes do not make any reference to the earlier fight or difficulties at school, the parents indicated that Benedict reported being picked upon for various reasons while at school.

“Whether or not individuals choose to seek legal counsel for remedies in the civil realm of the court system is a decision best left to them… [the] scope of inquiries are not as limited as the question of criminal/delinquent conduct which I was asked to address in this case.”

GLAAD president and chief executive Sarah Kate Ellis criticised the decision not to prosecute anyone, saying: “Time and time again, leaders in Oklahoma have showed that they don’t value Nex’s life, or the lives of other Indigenous and 2STGNC+ (Two Spirit, transgender, and gender-non-conforming+) students.

“Everyone from superintendent [of public instruction Ryan] Walters and Owasso High School to the state Medical Examiner’s Office, the district attorney and Owasso police have failed Nex Benedict and us all.

“It is critical that an independent investigation is completed and the truth about what happened to Nex, and what all marginalised youth in Oklahoma schools endure, is brought to light.

“We will never stop seeking justice for Nex and we will never stop holding leaders accountable to serving their communities fairly and with compassion.”

The post No charges over Nex Benedict fight as district attorney claims it was ‘mutual combat’ appeared first on PinkNews | Latest lesbian, gay, bi and trans news | LGBTQ+ news.