Authorities in the Southern California city of Palmdale are investigating the death of a 24-year-old black man found hanging from a tree near City Hall, which they originally described as an apparent suicide, prompting outrage in the community, the AP reports. A passerby reported seeing Robert Fuller's body around 3am Wednesday. Emergency personnel responded and found that he appeared to have died by suicide, Los Angeles County Sheriff's officials said. Fuller's death has generated intense scrutiny, especially after nationwide protests rebuking the police killing of George Floyd. On Saturday, hundreds of protesters took to the streets of the high desert city of 150,000, marching from the park where Fuller's body was found to the sheriff's station.
More than 130,000 people signed an online petition demanding a full investigation into Fuller's death. Community members confronted city officials at a contentious news briefing Friday, asking why they were quick to label his death a suicide and demanding an independent autopsy. "I have doubts about what happened," Marisela Barajas told the Los Angeles Times. "All alone, in front of the City Hall—it's more like a statement. Even if it was a suicide, that in itself is kind of a statement." Residents demanded surveillance video, but the city said there were no outdoor cameras around the time and place of the hanging. Lt. Kelly Yagerlener of the county medical examiner-coroner's office said a decision on the cause of death is deferred pending an investigation. A full autopsy is planned.
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