Police Release Cause of Death for Black Man Found Hanged

Robert Fuller killed himself, authorities say
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2020 1:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – The death of a Black man found hanging from a tree near a City Hall in southern California this month has been ruled a suicide. That's what authorities initially called it, prompting outrage from some, including activists who suspected he may have been lynched. But after a police investigation prompted by that uproar, including a push from the man's family, it's now official. "The medical examiner issued their final autopsy report and delivered it to the Sheriff's Department and deemed this case to be suicide," authorities said Thursday, per CBS News. Police say Robert Fuller, 24, had a history of mental health problems and suicidal tendencies, the AP reports. They also say he purchased a rope consistent with the one used in the hanging a month before his death.

During three hospitalizations since 2017, he told doctors he was thinking of taking his own life, including disclosing in November "that he did have a plan to kill himself," per a Los Angeles County sheriff's commander. And Nevada police investigated a February incident in which Fuller "allegedly tried to light himself on fire," the commander says. Palmdale, where Fuller was found, has a history of racist incidents, and Fuller had attended a Black Lives Matter protest days before his death. "In the timing of it and in the wake of the civil unrest that’s transpired across the nation, it brought a lot of attention," the LA County sheriff says. Fuller's family plans to hold their own news conference Friday. (In a separate hanging incident elsewhere in southern California, video confirmed the Black victim was not lynched and his family accepted the finding of suicide.)

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