PALMDALE (CBSLA) — An attorney for the family of Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old Black man found hanging from a tree near Palmdale City Hall, said Friday there was no evidence found to contradict the ruling that his death was a suicide.
“I don’t have any evidence to suggest that there was a hate crime, there is nothing to indicate threats, there’s nothing to indicate … foul play,” said Jamon Hicks, the attorney for Fuller’s family.
Fuller’s family had an independent autopsy conducted after his body was returned to them.
“There were no racist sentiments, no symbols or anything in the area, so we don’t have any information to suggest that it was a hate crime,” Hicks added.
Hicks said he is still working to gather evidence, including any video that may have captured Fuller’s June 10 death, in order to give the family closure.
“I want to make it clear, I’m not expecting that (anything is) going to dramatically change, but in complete thoroughness to the family, I told them I will find out every answer that I can find out,” Hicks said.
He said Fuller’s relatives were not aware of his history with mental health issues prior to his death.
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department reported Thursday that following an investigation, “the medical examiner issued their final autopsy report and delivered it to the Sheriff’s Department and deemed this case to be suicide.”
Investigators said the ruling came based on evidence found at the scene and Fuller’s mental health history.
According to LASD Cmdr. Chris Marks, Fuller had purchased a rope, similar to the one found, a month prior to his death.
“Detectives identified a purchase from a local dollar tree store made on May 14, 2020 in which a red rope consistent with the one used in the hanging was purchased with the EBT card registered to Mr. Fuller,” Marks said.
“Detectives purchased a similar rope from that same store and delivered it to L.A. County crime lab for comparison to the rope found at the scene.”
The case drew outrage after some in the community questioned what they saw as the Sheriff’s rushed to rule the death a suicide.
In the early morning hours of June 10, 24-year-old Fuller was found hanging from a tree in Palmdale.
His death came about two weeks after the Minneapolis death of George Floyd sparked nationwide protests and after another man was found hanging from a tree in Victorville.
Though some family members said Fuller didn’t have issues with mental health, investigators said there was documented evidence that said otherwise.
“Obtained from a hospital in Arizona was documented treatment in January of 2017 that Mr. Fuller was diagnosed for having auditory hallucinations in which it was reported that Mr. Fuller stated he wanted to put a gun to his head,” Marks said.
“In February of 2019, Mr. Fuller self-admitted to a California hospital. He was reportedly hearing voices telling himself to kill himself. In Nov. of 2019, Mr. Fuller was treated at a hospital in Nevada for suicidal ideation and depression. He disclosed he did have a plan to
kill himself then.”
Investigators also said there were no surveillance cameras that faced the park and no evidence of anyone else being in the area at the time.
During the news conference, Sheriff Alex Villanueva responded to questions about the credibility of his department.
“The overwhelming majority of the public trusts the Sheriff’s Department, and as you can see we complete an investigation then we report on the results. We don’t piecemeal it and we don’t cut any corners,” he said.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)