Published 12:42 p.m. PT July 10, 2020
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The lawyer for a black man's family, who hangs from a tree in a Southern California city park last month on Friday, did not deny the results of the investigators who described death as suicide.
Robert Fuller's family took the news and grieved, her lawyer Jamon R. Hicks said at a press conference.
“I have no information that could indicate a bad game. I have no information to suggest that anything was racially motivated, "said Hicks.
The manner in which Fuller died on June 10th in Palmdale exacerbated racial anxiety, which had already reached a boiling point after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis. Family members said they could not imagine the 24-year-old Fuller taking his own life, and community activists found that the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles, where death occurred, has had racist incidents in the past.
At a press conference on Thursday to announce the results of a follow-up, it was revealed that Fuller had mental illness and suicidal tendencies in the past.
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Sheriff & # 39; s Cmdr. Chris Marks described three hospitalizations since 2017 in which Fuller told doctors he was considering suicide. The last was in November when he was treated for depression in a Nevada hospital and "revealed that he had a plan to kill himself," said Marks.
Marks also said the Las Vegas police investigated an incident in February where Fuller "allegedly tried to set himself on fire".
No videos of death or witnesses to the suicide were found.
Marks said a red rope that matched the one at the place of death had been bought a month earlier in a dollar tree store with a Fuller-registered card for public support. There was no video of the transaction, but detectives found videos in which Fuller made subsequent purchases with the card.
Fuller's hands weren't tied, his clothes and looks were neat, he was wearing a hat and backpack and had a knife in his pocket, Marks said. There were no signs of combat or defense wounds. Fuller's left wrist had distinctive scars that matched "suicidal intentions," Marks said.
An initial autopsy was performed the day after Fuller was discovered and homicide officers requested a full autopsy, Marks said.
Marks said that detectives had a short interview with a family member on June 12 that reported a possible history of mental health and that death was considered suicide.
DNA testing revealed that the main cause of samples from the ligation and Fuller's fingernails were from Fuller, he said.
This suicide decision outraged Fuller's family. They hired a lawyer who said an independent autopsy would be performed, and the FBI and the Attorney General agreed to monitor the investigation.
His family and friends described him as a peacemaker who loved music and video games and mostly stayed to himself. He went to protest Black Lives Matter days before his death, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Racism has plagued Palmdale for years. Community members have described seeing Confederate flags in the desert city and wider Antelope Valley, and black people have been blamed for crimes and gang problems.
The sheriff department has also contributed to racist tensions: Five years ago, the county reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice over allegations that MPs harassed and discriminated against blacks and Latinos.
In September, a photo of four primary school teachers who were smiling and holding a noose was posted on social media. While an investigator concluded that the teachers did not appear to be motivated by racism, they were "ignorant, lacking judgment, and grossly disregarding professional decency in a school environment".
A week after Fuller's death, his half-brother Terron J. Boone was fatally shot by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputies. Police say Boone opened fire on MPs when they tried to arrest him for beating his girlfriend and detaining her. Detectives do not believe Boone's case is related to Fuller's death, authorities say.
Fuller was the second black man recently found hanged in Southern California. Malcolm Harsch, a 38-year-old homeless man, was found in a tree on May 31 in Victorville, a desert town in San Bernardino County east of Palmdale.
Public relations work related to Fuller's case prompted Harsch's family to investigate further. Detectives found surveillance material that "confirmed the lack of foul play," the authorities said. The family was shown the video and they accepted the finding of suicide.
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