A California university professor has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and battery in the death of a Jewish protester during duelling pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel rallies.
Paul Kessler, 69, died after falling and hitting his head during protests over the Israel-Hamas war earlier this month near Los Angeles.
Loay Alnaji, a professor of computer science at Moorpark College, was arrested early on Thursday, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
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Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko later said that Alnaji would be charged with a count each of involuntary manslaughter and battery.
Kessler, who died on November 6, was among a group of pro-Israel protesters who appeared at a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Thousand Oaks, a suburb northwest of Los Angeles, the previous day.
Ventura County Sheriff Jim Fryhoff earlier this month told reporters that investigators had determined that Kessler fell backwards and struck his head, but video footage did not provide a clear view of a physical altercation between the two men before the fall.
Fryhoff said at the time that investigators had not ruled out the possibility of a hate crime.
The arrest comes as demonstrations continue worldwide over Hamas’s October 7 attacks on Israel and Israel’s subsequent bombardment of Gaza.
About 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the Hamas attacks, according to Israeli officials.
Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has killed at least 11,500 people, including more than 4,700 children, according to the Ministry of Health in the Hamas-governed enclave.