Protests prompt investigation into death of black man found hanging from tree

US federal authorities are overseeing an investigation into the death of a black man found hanging from a tree in California.

The body of Robert Fuller, 24, was found last week in a park in the city of Palmdale.

His death was initially ruled a suicide by the county medical examiner-coroner’s office, but Mr Fuller’s family said they believed he was not suicidal.

Demonstrators at a protest rally for Robert Fuller
Image:Demonstrators at a protest rally for Robert Fuller

The incident prompted large protests over the weekend as demonstrators called for an independent investigation and post-mortem examination.

Senator Kamala Harris, Jaden Smith, and the lawyer for George’s Floyd’s family, Ben Crump, were among those calling for a further investigation.

Ms Harris said on Twitter that Mr Fuller’s family and community “deserve answers”, while Smith called for “justice”.

An online petition demanding an investigation collected more than 200,000 signatures.

More from Black Lives Matter

  • Rayshard Brooks death: How many protests will it take for change?

  • Black Lives Matter protests have left black police officers in a difficult position

  • Rayshard Brooks: Family of black man killed by police urge protesters to remain peaceful

  • Black Lives Matter: PM urged to deliver ‘get serious and deliver’ and told BAME people don’t need ‘another review’

  • Man jailed after urinating next to PC Keith Palmer memorial in London – Andrew Banks ‘ashamed’ of his actions, court told

  • Beatles’ Penny Lane ‘in danger of being renamed’ if slavery link proven, says Liverpool city mayor

Los Angeles County’s medical examiner-coroner, Dr Jonathan Lucas, said: “The initial report appeared to be consistent with a suicide but we felt it prudent to roll that back and continue to look deeper.”

Officials said investigators had only found rope and a backpack in the park, and nothing to indicate foul play.

Robert Fuller's sister Diamond Alexander and her husband Jose join a protest rally
Image:Robert Fuller’s sister Diamond Alexander and her husband Jose join a protest

But Mr Fuller’s sister, Diamond Alexander, told a rally at the weekend: “We really want to find out the truth of what really happened.

“It’s like everything that they’ve been telling us is just not right… We’re sitting here staring at this tree, it just doesn’t make sense.”

The state attorney general’s office and the FBI’s Civil Rights Division will oversee the investigation, which is being led by the Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide bureau.

:: Listen to Divided States on Apple podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Spreaker

The coroner’s office has completed a post-mortem and is awaiting toxicology results, while investigators are looking at Mr Fuller’s medical history.

Homicide detectives will be analysing the rope and its knot, trying to obtain video footage from the area and speaking to Mr Fuller’s social services case worker and anyone who had recently interacted with him.

Investigators will also meet with Mr Fuller’s family, authorities said.

The investigation has also brought to attention the death of another black man who was found hanging from a tree on 31 May about 45 miles away from Palmdale.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said it did not suspect foul play in the death of 38-year-old Malcolm Harsch, but his family said they were concerned it would be ruled a suicide to avoid further attention.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide bureau, Sheriff Alex Villanueva, said his investigators would consult with San Bernardino detectives to see if there were any similarities between the two deaths.

:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.

:: Race and Revolution: Is Change Going to Come?

On Tuesday night at 8pm, Sky News will also broadcast global debate show Race and Revolution: Is Change Going to Come?

It will look at the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter protests, and examine institutional racism and how we fix it.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *