By Angela Greenwood

EL DORADO HILLS (CBS13) — New details have surfaced in the death of a local teen with autism. 13-year-old Max Benson of Davis died after being restrained at the Guiding Hands school in El Dorado Hills.

The family’s attorney says there are still many questions surrounding the teen’s tragic passing.

Child abuse attorney Seth Goldstein said, “Not knowing what the behavior was, anything that results in death short of him trying to kill somebody else is not appropriate.”

Goldstein says his main focus will be on what type of restraint was used and if it was warranted for Max’s behavior, but he also says there’s a lot of concern about inaccurate information being reported.

“Max’s family is in terrible grief and they are, as I would expect, trying to deal with the shock and the loss that they faced,” said Goldstein.

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Shock, heartbreak and confusion about what exactly killed 13-year-old Max Benson. The teenage student who had autism, died one day after being restrained inside a classroom at the Guiding Hands school in El Dorado Hills.

“All I can tell you is that the end result where a child dies under the kind of school situation in which he found himself, a death is not appropriate for an outcome,” said Goldstein.

Goldstein says it’s unclear what type of restraint was used, and his job is to find out if it was considered reasonable within the scope of the law.

“If they were holding him down and of course if that inhibited his inability to breathe, or if he hyperventilated because of the behavior that he was experiencing and was being restrained. That’s inappropriate,” he said.

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According to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, Max had become violent with a staff member last Wednesday jeopardizing the safety of others around him. They also reported Max was six feet tall and weighed 280 pounds, but Goldstein says according to medical records from January, he was 5’3 and weighed only 180 pounds.

“I’m concerned about the fact that there is misinformation,” said Goldstein.

Authorities also reported Max had severe autism, but Goldstein says that’s not true.

“As I understand, he was highly intelligent, very verbal and was not what somebody would call severe,” Goldstein said.

CBS13 reached out to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s office several times Friday about the conflicting information, but our calls were not returned. We’ve also been in touch with Max’s mom, who says her son had a passion for animals and that he had recently celebrated his 13th birthday with his twin brother.

Angela Greenwood

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