The death of Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old black man hanging from a tree opposite Palmdale City Hall last month, was classified as suicide by the Los Angeles District Coroner Office in a conclusion announced Thursday after a final autopsy report Sheriff's department.
Fuller's death was originally classified as suicide by the authorities last month, but family members and community members have called for further investigation. In an update on Thursday, sheriff officials released details of their investigation and announced that the coroner's final autopsy showed that Fuller's death was classified as suicide.
"Investigators met with the coroner's office and discussed the final results," said the Cmdr sheriff's department. Chris Marks said. "It was only this afternoon that the coroner issued his final autopsy report, handed it to the sheriff's department, and classified the case as suicide."
They also cited evidence received during the investigation, including a transaction that showed a red rope on May 14, about a month before Fuller's death, in a dollar tree store with a Fuller-registered EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) was bought. A similar red rope was found at the scene, the authorities said.
The tree was easily accessible and could be climbed by Fuller, the sheriff department said. There was no sign of a fight and Fuller's hands were not tied, the authorities added.
An answer from the family was not immediately available. At the time of the sheriff's press conference, family members were out of the country, said sheriff Alex Villanueva.
The family has requested an independent autopsy. In a statement on the firm's Facebook page, the family lawyer said they were waiting for results.
Lawyer Jamon R. Hicks, who represents the von Fuller family, planned a press conference for Friday at 11 a.m.
A passerby found Fuller's body hanging on a tree in Poncitlan Square on June 10th. Investigators received a surveillance camera video from the area that showed a nearby street but did not show the tree.
In a statement released on Thursday, the coroner's office said that Fuller's body was examined on June 11 by medical personnel. The next day, a full autopsy was completed and the cause and type of death shifted.
"After additional testing and independent research into Fuller's medical history and background, it was determined that the cause of death was dependent," the coroner said. "The type of death has been confirmed as suicide."
Villanueva promised to conduct a thorough investigation into the death, in collaboration with state and federal law enforcement agencies. Villanueva said he called Attorney General Xavier Becerra and contacted the FBI, whose civil rights department would also monitor the investigation.
Hundreds of people are waiting for answers after the death of two black men in Palmdale. Beverly White reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Thursday June 18, 2020.
Fuller died about a week after the death of another black man found hanging from a tree. No foul is suspected when the 38-year-old Malcolm Harsch died.
If you or someone you know are at risk of suicide, please call the United States National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, write TALK to 741741, or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources, to get more resources.