PALMDALE (CBSLA) — The city of Palmdale has announced its support of an independent investigation and independent autopsy in the death of Robert Fuller, a black man who was found hanging in a tree near City Hall.
In a statement issued Saturday, the city said in part, “the City of Palmdale is joining the family and the community’s call for justice, and we do support a full investigation into his death. We will settle for nothing less than a thorough accounting of this matter.”
Fuller, 24, was found dead by a passerby on June 10, around 3:40 a.m.
Debra Lemle, Fuller’s cousin, described him as loving and happy.
“He was very loving, funny, happy, very humble. He wasn’t a troublesome kid. I don’t think he ever got in trouble. He was so laid back and quiet,” she said. Lemle was joined at dozens Friday at Palmdale City Hall to refute what investigators had to say about his death.
“Although the investigation is ongoing, it appears that Mr. Fuller has tragically died by suicide,” Capt. Ron Shaffer of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Friday. But Fuller’s cousin says that he was not suicidal.
“He was not suicidal and he had no mental illnesses. We do not want that to be implied,” said Pernisha Theus, a cousin, who explained that Fuller comes from a tight-knit family and they do not believe the preliminary suicide finding. They told CBS Los Angeles that Fuller had just returned from visiting siblings in Arizona and showed no signs of any problems.
“It is a lynching. We have a lot of questions that we need answers to,” said Lemle, his cousin.
The LASD said they are continuing to investigate the circumstances of Fuller’s death and a full autopsy will be completed. Fuller’s family and community members want his death investigated as a homicide.
During a town hall Friday, attendees questioned the release of a public statement saying Fuller’s death was “possible suicide.”
“That was what the preliminary impression was from the Coroner and the investigators that were out there,” said Mayor Steve Hofbauer of Palmdale. “The city manager and I have been working the phones to talk with other investigative agencies that may be able to assist us in this process.”
The mayor said he was determined to find out the exact cause of Fuller’s death and guaranteed transparency in their findings.
“We join with our community and Robert Fuller’s family in mourning his tragic death,” the city said in a statement.
A protest by activists of Black Lives Matter got underway outside of Palmdale City Hall at 11 a.m. to demand answers into his death.