After black man Robert Fuller was found dead hanging from a tree in Palmdale, California, local officials ruled his death a suicide. Now, a number of skeptical members of the community are demanding answers.
As The Antelope Valley Times reported, Fuller's body was found hanging from a tree near the Palmdale City Hall at close to 4 a.m. on Wednesday. A rope was tied to his neck and tied to the tree near Poncitlan Square, the report noted. The death was investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's homicide unit, but Lt. Brandon Dean said that all indications pointed to a suicide. He noted that family members said Fuller had a history of mental illness, and the community has been beset by a number of other suicides since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Officials did not say what other evidence may have indicated a suicide, though some pointed out that there appeared to be surveillance cameras in the vicinity of where his body was found.
City officials asked others struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts to seek help.
"Many people are suffering extreme mental anguish and the city wants everyone to know that help is available," said City Manager JJ Murphy. "There are local resources such as Mental Health America of Los Angeles, AV Vet Center, and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health."
The City of Palmdale also released a statement offering condolences to the man's family and offering connections to mental health resources.
But the timing of Fuller's death, coming amid national unrest surrounding issues of police brutality and systemic racism, has left many wary of the official designation of a suicide. Many both in the Palmdale community and nationally took to social media to call for a full investigation of Fuller's death.
"I'm extremely concerned about what happened to #RobertFuller in #Palmdale," tweeted Katie Hill, the former congresswoman who represented Palmdale. "The @LACoSheriff needs to conduct a much deeper investigation before ruling this a suicide."