THE death of a Black man who was found hanging from a tree in a park last month was a suicide, police said on Thursday.
Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old homeless man, was found dead on June 10 in Palmdale, California, by a passerby.
The next day, an autopsy found Fuller died of suicide — but his family said authorities were too quick to dismiss any possibility his death was a crime.
Fuller’s family hired an attorney who said an independent autopsy would be conducted, and the FBI and state attorney general’s office pledged to monitor the investigation.
On Thursday, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Commander Chris Marks said Fuller suffered from mental illness and took his own life in June.
Since 2017, Fuller told doctors during three separate hospitalizations that he was considering suicide, Marks said.
The commander added that in November 2019, Fuller was being treated for depression at a Nevada hospital, where he is said to have “disclosed that he did have a plan to kill himself.”
Investigators said the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department investigated an incident in February when Fuller “allegedly tried to light himself on fire.”
Fuller’s death came as protests over police brutality following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died in police custody in May.
After the 24-year-old died last month, more than 1,000 people attended a peaceful protest and memorial near where his body was found in Palmdale.
A week after his death, Fuller’s half-brother, Terron Boone, was fatally shot by Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies after they said he opened fire on them as they were about to arrest him.
Before Fuller was found dead, another Black man — Malcolm Harsch, 38 — was also found hanging from a tree in Victorville, in San Bernardino County.
Fuller’s case prompted Harsch’s family to investigate the man’s death, but after police found a video that “confirmed the absence of foul play,” they accepted the cops’ finding of suicide.
Since May 27, six people of color — in Texas, Oregon, South Carolina, and New York City — have been found hanging from trees.
Each case was ruled a suicide, but a number of politicians and family members have questioned the rulings.
If you or someone you know is affected by any of the issues raised in this story, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text Crisis Text Line at 741741.
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