The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department in California arrested Loay Abdelfattah Alnaji on Thursday with the intention of charging him with the involuntary manslaughter of a pro-Israel protester, Paul Kessler, who died after an alleged altercation with Alnaji last week. The New York Times reports that the authorities were planning on holding the 50-year-old man, who lives in Moorpark, California, on $1 million bail.
Alnaji was protesting in support of Palestine in Thousand Oaks, California on Nov. 5 when the two men got into an argument, allegedly leading to Kessler, who was 69, falling and hitting his head; he died the next day. Authorities said last week that Kessler’s manner of death, specifically how it happened, was not “exactly crystal clear.” Footage of the supposed altercation that the police had reviewed at that point was not definitive. Police are asking the public to provide more if possible.
“Though an arrest has been made, we continue to encourage community members who may have information about this criminal investigation and have yet to come forward to please contact Detective Stump,” the authorities said in a press release, which details ways to communicate with the police directly and anonymously.
Between 75 and 100 people showed up to the protest in Thousand Oaks representing people defending Israel and Palestine. Following the alleged incident, Kessler was found bleeding from his mouth and from the back of his head. At the time, he was “conscious and responsive,” according to Ventura County Sheriff Jim Fryhoff, who held a press conference a couple of days later. It was in the early hours of Nov. 6 in which Kessler died in a hospital. An autopsy revealed Kessler died of “blunt force head trauma.”
Dr. Christopher Young, Chief Medical Examiner of Ventura County, said that blunt force head trauma “does not indicate that a crime has been committed,” though “the actions of another person contributed to the death.” Criminal charges, he said at the time, would be at the discretion of the district attorney.
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