Authorities said that a police investigation confirming suicide was the cause of the death of a black man who was found suspended from a tree in a park in southern California last month.
Police investigator Chris Marks said the investigation revealed that Robert Fuller, 24, was suffering from mental illness and took his life early on June 10 in a park near City Hall in Palmdale, a community of about 150,000 people north of Los Angeles.
At the time the body was found, the deputies found no evidence of a crime, and the autopsy performed the next day resulted in a preliminary discovery of suicide.
This resentment angered the Fuller family, who said he was an optimistic person and would not have killed him. They said that the authorities were too quick to reject the possibility of a crime. They hired a lawyer who said an autopsy would be done, and the FBI and the Prosecutor’s Office pledged to monitor the investigation.
The case came in the midst of fierce protests over police brutality following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
After Fuller’s death, more than 1,000 people attended a peaceful protest and monument around the tree where his body was found. His family and friends described him as a peacemaker who loves music and video games, and mostly stayed for himself.
The Los Angeles Times reported that he had gone to “black life” protests days before his death.
A week after Fuller’s death, Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies shot his half-brother, Tarun Boon. Police say Boone opened fire on MPs about to arrest him on charges of beating and holding his girlfriend for about a week. He died at the scene, where a handgun was found.
Fuller was the second black man recently found in Southern California. Malcolm Harsh, a 38-year-old homeless man, was found in a tree on May 31 in Victorville, a desert city in San Bernardino County, east of Palmdale. The publicity surrounding the Fuller case prompted the Harsh family to seek further investigation of his death.
According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, police were able to obtain surveillance footage from a vacant building near where Harsh’s body was found, “confirming that there was nothing wrong with playing it.” The video was shown to the family and said they had accepted to find the suicide.