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Black California man found hanging from a tree died of suicide, officials say

The death of a 24-year-old California man who was found hanging from a tree last month has been ruled a suicide, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Robert Fuller’s body was found in Palmdale on the morning of June 10. There were no signs of a struggle and no signs that he had attempted to remove the rope from his neck, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Chris Marks said.

The determination came after a “thorough” investigation with the California Department of Justice and the FBI, sheriff’s officials said at a press conference Thursday. An independent investigation into Fuller’s death reached the same conclusions as the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and coronor’s office.

“While the family is still struggling with these initial reports, there is nothing to suggest foul play at this time,” said family attorney Jamon Hicks.

Nothing but the rope, the contents of his pockets and a backpack that he was wearing were found on the scene, Los Angeles County Homicide Capt. Kent Wegener said last month. No suicide note was found, county officials said.

Fuller had a documented history of mental illness and self-harm, including attempted suicide, Los Angeles County investigators found. He had been in touch with his family off and on through the years and last visited with family members in early June, about two weeks before his death, Marks said.

Fuller died 10 days after another Black man, Malcolm Harsch, was found hanging in Victorville, about 50 miles from Palmdale. The deaths aroused suspicion of foul play.

Harsch’s death was by suicide, his family said last month after police found new video evidence. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department also said no foul play was involved.

The rope used to hang Fuller was tied directly to branches, “indicating that the victim was not hoisted into that position,” Marks said.

Sheriff’s officials said Fuller bought the rope at a Dollar Tree store on May 14.

Investigators identified a purchase of a red rope that was consistent with the one used in the hanging to one made using an EBT card registered to Fuller.

There was no surveillance video from that store because it was a month before Fuller’s death, although investigators were able to find other surveillance video of Fuller making purchases with that same EBT card.

Fuller, sheriff’s officials said, had a history of mental health struggles and had been hospitalized in recent years for suicidal thoughts and depression.

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