Death of Robert Fuller, Man Found Hanging From Tree, Ruled Suicide

On Thursday afternoon, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that the hanging death of 24-year-old Black man Robert Fuller in Palmdale, California has been ruled a suicide following an investigation.

Among the evidence found by investigators was the purchase of a red rope used in Fuller's hanging that was tracked back to an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card registered in his name.

On June 10. Fuller's body was found hanging from a tree across from Palmdale City Hall. The sheriff's department says there were no signs of a struggle nor were Fuller's hands bound.

"There was nothing else found at the scene—other than the rope, which was used to hang the victim, and the contents of his pocket, as well as a backpack that he was wearing," said Kent Wegener, captain of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Homicide Unit, in early June.

Nevertheless, California State Attorney General Xavier Berea has reportedly reached out to the FBI. The FBI's civil rights division will monitor the ongoing investigation, NBC Los Angeles reports.

Robert Fuller hanging suicide
A woman wipes her tears during a vigil, around a makeshift memorial at the tree where Robert Fuller was found dead outside Palmdale City Hall on June 13, 2020, to demand a full investigation into the death of Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old black man found hanging from a tree, in Palmdale, California. Apu Gomes / AFP/Getty

Over 500,000 people had signed a petition asking for a thorough and transparent investigation into Fuller's death, suspecting that he had perhaps fallen victim to a lynching amid the growing nationwide protests against anti-Black policing and systemic racism.

"For African-Americans in America, hanging from a tree is a lynching," said Jamon Hicks, a lawyer representing the Fuller family. "Why was this cavalierly dismissed as a suicide and not investigated as a murder? We want complete transparency."

Newsweek has reached out to Jamon Hicks for further comment.

A week after Fuller was found hanged, police fatally shot his half-brother, Terron Boone, in Rosamond, California, a town 20 miles away.

Boone had been charged on the Tuesday before his death with multiple offenses, including false imprisonment, assault, criminal threats and domestic violence, according to The Los Angeles Times. He reportedly shot at officers during a traffic stop before officers returned fire, hitting him in the torso and killing him.

Fuller's death is the second recent hanging death of a Black Californian citizen to be ruled as a suicide.

On June 19, the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department (SBSD) said surveillance video "confirmed the absence of foul play" in the death of Malcolm Harsch, a 38-year-old African American man discovered hanging from a tree near the Victorville city library and a homeless encampment in California on May 31.

Harsch's family subsequently said in a statement released that they were convinced that Harsch had taken his own life.

If you have thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available for free at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255. The line is available 24 hours every day.