Authorities in California on Thursday said the official cause of death for Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old Black man whose body was found hanging from a tree in a public park last month, was suicide.
His death drew national attention after his family voiced suspicion about the suspected cause of death. But a Los Angeles County medical examiner has officially ruled it to be a suicide following an investigation by the sheriff’s department.
“This event drew a lot of media concern, community concern,” LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters at a press briefing on Thursday. “And the timing of it, in the wake of the civil unrest and all that’s transpired across the nation, it brought a lot of attention based on the past history of our nation and the rather odd manner in which this death occurred.”
“We left no stone uncovered,” he added.
Fuller was found dead at Poncitlán Square across from Palmdale City Hall at 3:39 a.m. on June 10. Amid the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping the US, his family said they were suspicious of early findings that he had killed himself.
“We really want to find out the truth of what really happened,” sister Diamond Alexander said at a rally several days after Fuller’s body was discovered. “Everything that they’ve been telling us has not been right. … My brother was not suicidal. He wasn’t.”
The FBI and Department of Justice had said they would review Fuller’s death, as well as that of another Black man, Malcolm Harsch, whose body had also also found hanging from a tree about 50 miles away 10 days earlier.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Commander Chris Marks said Thursday that an investigation found Fuller had received extensive treatment for mental health issues, including hearing voices telling him to kill himself. He had also been hospitalized for suicidal ideation and depression.
Detectives found Fuller’s EBT card had been used a month earlier to buy a rope from a Dollar Tree store – the same type of rope used in the suicide.
There were no signs of a struggle at the park, nor did Fuller have any defensive wounds indicating he had tried to fight off an attacker, Marks said.
Alexander, Fuller’s sister, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the medical examiner’s ruling.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org. You can also text TALK to 741741 for free, anonymous, 24/7 crisis support in the US from the Crisis Text Line.