Sheriff’s office has no video of ‘actual incident’ in Jewish man’s fatal injury at rally

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LOS ANGELES — A California sheriff’s office said Thursday that investigators do not have video that shows the “actual incident” that preceded a Jewish man’s fatal injury as pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrators were at an intersection.

Paul Kessler, 69, died Monday, one day after he struck his head in the fall in Thousand Oaks, a city in the Los Angeles area just across the Ventura County line, officials said.

Kessler was supporting Israel, a suspect in the case was supporting Palestinians, and they got into an altercation, the Ventura County sheriff has said.

Sheriff’s investigators are “working around the clock,” the sheriff’s office said in the statement Thursday about the highly watched case. There are photos and video from before and after the incident.

“Currently, we do not have any footage of the actual incident taking place, which would be extremely helpful in this case and would undoubtedly show or could even refute criminal culpability,” the sheriff’s office said.

There had been no arrests as of Thursday evening. The suspect, 50, whom officials have not publicly identified, remained at the scene and has been cooperative, Sheriff Jim Fryhoff said this week.

Kessler suffered a fatal impact to the back of his head from the fall, Ventura County’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Christopher Young, said Tuesday.

Kessler also had an injury to the left side of his face that was not fatal but could be consistent with a blow, Young said.

Fryhoff said Tuesday that investigators were trying to find out exactly what occurred, including “whether or not there was a blow to the face that caused the fall, or if Mr. Kessler fell without that being the precipitating event.”

There are also conflicting accounts from witnesses, the sheriff’s office said.

“There was clearly an interaction between the two, but what that level of interaction is is still unclear,” Fryhoff said.

A nearby Shell gas station has a camera, but the view of the incident is blocked by a sign showing gasoline prices, Fryhoff has said. Investigators have been asking anyone with video, including from vehicles, to come forward.

Fryhoff said Tuesday that investigators have not been able to confirm claims that Kessler was struck in the head by a bullhorn or a megaphone.

“That was a statement that had been made, but we do not have confirmation of that at this time,” he said at the news conference Tuesday.

Kessler died as a conflict between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas in Gaza has killed thousands of people. More than 1,400 people in Israel were killed in Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas, and the Health Ministry in Gaza says more than 10,000 people have been killed there.

Among those commenting on the incident were senior politicians in Israel.

Benny Gantz, the opposition leader, who joined a wartime Cabinet, said that “the murder of Jewish-American Paul Kessler should serve as a stark warning sign to the whole world.”

Kessler’s death has been ruled a homicide, which means someone died at the hands of another. It does not by itself suggest wrongdoing.

“We are in constant communication with our District Attorney’s Office regarding this case,” the sheriff’s office said Thursday.

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