The family of Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old man who was found hanging from a tree across City Hall in Palmdale, California last week, is seeking an independent autopsy after local police initially said he died by suicide.
Protestors gathered in the square near City Hall where Fuller’s body was discovered to call for further investigation over the weekend, Buzzfeed reported.
“We really want to find out the truth of what really happened,” his sister Diamond Alexander said during the rally. “Everything that they’ve been telling us has not been right. ... My brother was not suicidal. He wasn’t.”
City officials walked back their ruling that Fuller’s death was an apparent suicide and said they have opened up a homicide investigation into the case at a news briefing on Friday, reported the Los Angeles Times.
Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer says he has also written to California’s Attorney General seeking an additional independent investigation into the case.
Jamon Hicks, an attorney for the Fuller family, told Buzzfeed News they are now working to secure an independent autopsy. “The family is completely devastated,” he said. “They want answers. They want full disclosure. Most of all, they want to know that Mr. Fuller’s life mattered.”
Ironically, Fuller’s body was found close to City Hall, an area that many Palmdale residents had been protesting at as part of the national response to the killing of George Floyd, his attorney added.
“This area is known for its skinheads and for having racial conflict and I would suspect that police would look into that as a potential narrative,” he told Buzzfeed. “The manner by which the body was found, not too far from City Hall in an area where there had been protests about Black Lives Matter and George Floyd, you can’t ignore that. That’s why you see such an outrage from the Black community.”
Fifty miles away, in Victorville, California, another family is pursuing their own investigation into the hanging death of their loved one.
Local authorities have said they concluded an autopsy of 38-year-old Malcolm Harsch, whose body was found on May 31. But his family says they have not told been told the cause of death, according to the New York Times.
“It has been stressful. It doesn’t sound right.” his sister Harmonie Harsch told the Times. “We are really just trying to get more answers as to what happened.”
At this time, it has not been reported if these two deaths are related.