The apparent suicide of 24-year-old Robert Fuller, who was found hanging from a tree in Palmdale, California, has pushed members of the community to call for answers over the suspicious circumstances of the death. On Saturday, CBS News reported that officials in the town are calling for an independent autopsy and investigation into Fuller’s alleged suicide.
“Following the death of Mr. Robert Fuller, the City of Palmdale is officially supporting the call for an independent investigation and an independent autopsy of Mr. Fuller who was found dead on June 10, 2020 at Poncitlan Square in Palmdale,” a statement from the city read.
“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.”
The city previously released a statement in which it offered condolences to the family and friends of Fuller. The announcement comes after Debra Lemle, Fuller’s cousin, and others called for a homicide investigation into Fuller’s death.
“It is a lynching,” Lemle said. “We have a lot of questions that we need answers to.”
Pernisha Theus, another one of Fuller’s cousins, pushed back on suggestions that Fuller was suicidal and claimed he was not struggling with mental illness.
In a statement released Friday, Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer acknowledged the community’s call for an investigation and said the city is “asking the same.”
According to Hofbauer, city officials will be cooperating with relevant agencies that are investigating Fuller’s death. Per CNN, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said that investigators are continuing to investigate Fuller’s death and have been in active communication with his family. CNN also reported that the department confirmed a full autopsy would be conducted “in the immediate future.”
We mourn yet another beautiful life. #RobertFuller’s death has been described as an alleged suicide, but the community thinks otherwise. I implore anyone in Palmdale, CA to share info about this case, and urge authorities to conduct autopsy quickly #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/4HznvfHCbn
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) June 13, 2020
Fuller’s death was investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s homicide unit. According to Lt. Brandon Dean, who noted Fuller’s history of mental illness, all evidence suggests that Muller committed suicide. However, aside from this alleged history and the community’s recent spate of suicides since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, officials did not reveal other indications that suggested Muller took his life.
Calls for a second look at Fuller’s apparent suicide come as protests continue to sweep America following the death of George Floyd, an African American who died while being detained by white former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Protesters are calling for reforms to police departments across the U.S.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.