The widely-publicized death of California resident Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old black man found hanging from a tree last month, has been ruled a suicide, according to local authorities.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department made the announcement during a live press conference Thursday, following nationwide protests calling for a thorough investigation. Fuller was found the morning of June 10 hanging from a tree near the Palmdale City Hall.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Chris Marks disclosed at the briefing that Fuller showed no signs of struggle.
“His clothing and appearance was neat and clean, and he wore a hat and backpack,” the commander said. “No defensive wounds were observed and his hands were not bound.”
The county coroner’s office ruled the case a “suicide by hanging” in a final autopsy report, according to a press release.
The determination came on the heels of a lengthy investigation involving the California Department of Justice and the FBI, officials explained.
You can watch the full press conference below:
Marks also noted that Fuller’s family helped to provide “much-needed-information throughout the process.
The family’s attorney Jamon R. Hicks told Heavy.com in a statement that he will host a live-streamed press conference Friday to respond to the determined cause of death.
The family had previously called for an independent investigation and autopsy.
Here is everything you need to know about Robert Fuller’s cause of death:
1. Fuller Struggled with Suicidal Thoughts in the Past, Officials Say
Authorities disclosed that the Palmdale resident dealt with mental health issues and suicidal thoughts for more than a year — including admittance into two hospitals for hearing “voices telling him to kill himself.”
Marks said investigators “observed several prominent linear scars on Mr. Fuller’s left wrist consistent with suicidal intent.”
In 2017, Fuller was treated by an Arizona hospital that confirmed “he wanted to put a gun to his head.”
Marks also stated the young man tried to light himself on fire in February of this year, according to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
2.Officials Initially Dubbed Fuller’s Death a Suicide, But Walked Back After Hundreds Took to the Streets
Although the county medical examiner initially dubbed Fuller’s death a suicide, he backtracked after hundreds took to the streets demanding a full investigation by the state’s attorney general office.
As racial tensions continued to heighten in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, scores of protesters turned out in Palmdale to cite concerns over a possible lynching.
“We want to find out the truth on what really happened,” Fuller’s sister Diamond Alexander said during her brother’s memorial. “We just want the truth. My brother was not suicidal. He was a survivor. He was street smart.”
A Change.org petition seeking a “thorough” and “transparent” investigation also gained momentum online.
More than 260,000 people signed the petition, including celebrities like Kim Kardashian.
Becerra’s job was to determine whether any foul play was involved, while the FBI’s civil rights division was also to review the findings.
3. Nothing Was Found at the Scene ‘Other Than the Rope That was Used’
Chief County Medical Examiner Jonathan Lucas previously defended his office’s initial suicide finding, stating that, “there wasn’t any evidence or information that led us to believe that there was anything other than a suicide.”
Lucas said that nothing at the scene indicated foul play, while Los Angeles County Homicide Captain Kent Wegener reported that only “the rope that was used to hang the victim and the contents of his pockets as well as a backpack that he was wearing” were found.
During a virtual town hall for the Lancaster and Palmdale communities following the conference, the homicide captain described the tree where Fuller was found as “very easily climbable.”
Marks indicated during the recent briefing that the rope was tied directly to the branches, which suggested “that the victim was not hoisted into that position.”
He added that investigators believe Fuller purchased the rope in May at a local Dollar Tree store. The detectives found a purchase of red rope on an EBT card registered to Fuller similar to the one used in his hanging.
4. You Can Request a Copy of Fuller’s Coroner Report Online
According to a press release from the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner, a full copy of Fuller’s report can be requested at email@example.com. His case number is 2020-05108.
The online statement surrounding Fuller’s cause of death says “medical personnel performed a physical examination on Fuller” on June 11.
Adding, “After additional testing and independent investigation into Fuller’s medical history and background, the cause of death was determined to be hanging.”
The Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner aims to investigate the causes of “violent, sudden or unusual deaths occurring within Los Angeles County,” the statement reads.
5. Fuller’s Family Faced Another Tragedy When his Half-Brother, Terron Boone, was Killed in a Deputy-Involved Shooting Shortly After
Fuller’s family attorney confirmed to Heavy on June 17 that Boone was killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies in Kern County during a gunfight.
He was wanted for allegations that included assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment, domestic violence and criminal threats, according to the department’s Facebook page.
“This afternoon I had to notify the sisters of Robert Fuller that their brother Terron Jammal Boone was killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies in Kern County,” Attorney Jamon Hicks wrote in a statement to Heavy.
Adding, “At this time, until we receive all of the information, the family and their legal team does not have any further comment on this incident. The family respectfully asks that their privacy be respected. Our prayers remain with the Fuller family.”