The death of Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old Black man found hanging from a tree in front of city hall in Palmdale, California on June 10, has been ruled a suicide, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said Thursday. Fuller's death was ruled a suicide last month, but his family called for a more thorough investigation. The sheriff's department said the final autopsy also determined Fuller took his own life.
Sheriff's Department Cmdr. Chris Marks said the medical examiner's final report "deemed this case to be a suicide," reports NBC Los Angeles. The investigation also found an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card registered to Fuller was used to buy a red rope at a Dollar Tree on May 14. A rope similar to that was found at the scene. There was no sign of a struggle at the tree where Fuller was found and his hands were not bound, authorities said. Marks also noted that Fuller had a history of seeking treatment for mental health issues and was hospitalized for suicidal thoughts and depression, notes BuzzFeed News.
Fuller's family has not commented on the final autopsy result yet and they were not in California Thursday, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at Thursday's press conference. After authorities first determined Fuller's death was a suicide last month, his family called for an independent autopsy and investigation. Attorney Jamon R. Hicks said the independent autopsy was complete on June 26, but they are still awaiting results.
Last month, Hicks said the sheriff's department "immediately declared his death a suicide without completing a full and thorough investigation." He called the swift determination "extremely disturbing," especially considering how Fuller was found. "For African-Americans in America, hanging from a tree is a lynching," Hicks said in a statement. "Why was this cavalierly dismissed as a suicide and not investigated as a murder?"
During Thursday's press briefing, Villanueva said they "left no stone uncovered." Fuller's death " lot of media concern, community concern," he said. "And the timing of it, in the wake of the civil unrest and all that’s transpired across the nation, it brought a lot of attention based on the past history of our nation and the rather odd manner in which this death occurred."
Fuller was discovered 10 days after another Black man, Malcolm Harsch, was found hanging in Victorville, California, which led to speculation of foul play. Harsch's death was also ruled a suicide. The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department found surveillance footage that shows a man identified as Harsch hanging himself on May 31.
If you or someone you know are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.