A Black man was found hanging from a tree in Palmdale, California, on June 10, less than two weeks after another body was found in a town 50 miles away.
Robert Fuller was found hanging from a tree in a park last Wednesday, according to KABC. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the 24-year-old’s death appeared to be a suicide, and an autopsy was performed on the body. The results are pending.
On Monday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters a rope, Fuller’s backpack and the contents of his pocket were the only items recovered from the scene. Investigators will conduct a forensics investigation on the rope and research his medical history. Californian Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the FBI’s civil rights division are also looking into Fuller’s death.
“I reached out to Attorney General Xavier Becerra and they are now going to provide a monitor and review all of our investigation to make sure we didn’t leave any rock unturned,” Villanueva said.
Fuller’s family and friends do not believe his death was a suicide and insist he was not experiencing any mental illness. They believe he was a victim of the racial tension happening in the country.
“I feel like somebody murdered my best friend and they used this tree to cover it up,” Tommie Anderson said on Sunday. “There’s a lot of Black Lives Matter things going on and I feel like they want to put it on — it was mental issues, it was depression, it was something other than the fact that a young man was hung from a tree.”
“Everything that they’ve been telling us has not been right,” said Diamond Alexander, his sister. “We’ve been hearing one thing. Then we hear another. And we just want to know the truth.”
“My brother was not suicidal,” Alexander asserted. “He wasn’t.”
Ten days before Fuller’s body was found, another Black man’s body was discovered hanging from a tree. On March 31, 38-year-old Malcolm Harsch’s body was found near a homeless settlement where he reportedly was living in Victorville, a California city about 50 miles from Palmdale.
A San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner’s Department representative told Victor Valley News there wasn’t any indication of foul play but his death is under investigation. A cause of death has not been determined.
Like Fuller’s family, Harsch’s loved ones do not believe he was suicidal.
“Amidst the current racial tension and following the protesting the night prior to his body being discovered we were truly troubled to learn of his passing particularly of how his body was discovered,” the family said in a statement. “He is an African-American man whose body was found hanging from a tree!”
The family accused the officer who confirmed the death of trying to explain away the death.
“The deputy who called to confirm his death asked questions about drug or alcohol use, he made a statement about how the coronavirus has ‘hit people really hard’ and said that a USB cord was used to hang himself,” the statement continued.
Harsch’s family also mentioned the issues caused by the unrest.
“The explanation of suicide does not seem plausible. There are many ways to die but considering the current racial tension, a black man hanging himself from a tree definitely doesn’t sit well with us right now. We want justice not comfortable excuses,” the statement argued.
“Malcolm had very recent conversations with his children about seeing them soon. He didn’t seem to be depressed to anyone who truly knew him.”