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FBI, California AG To 'Monitor' Robert Fuller Death Investigation

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Both the FBI Civil Rights Division and the California Attorney General's Office will review the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department investigation into the death of Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old black man who was found hanging from a tree in Palmdale last week.

FBI, California AG To 'Monitor' Robert Fuller Death Investigation
Activists hold a protest in Palmdale, Calif., on June 13, 2020, calling for an investigation into the hanging death of Robert Fuller, a black man, near Palmdale City Hall on June 10. (CBSLA)

In a downtown L.A. news conference Monday, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva confirmed that both agencies had agreed to look over LASD's investigation.

"I reached out to Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and they are now going to provide a monitor and review all of our investigation and make sure we didn't leave any rock unturned," Villanueva said. "I also reached out to the FBI."

"We're making sure we're transparent and fully accountable," Villanueva added.

The sheriff noted that the case has received significant interest in recent days.

"My emails, my phone is constantly ringing about concerns about this, it means a lot to a lot of people," Villanueva said.

Robert Fuller's body was discovered by a passerby at around 3:30 a.m. on June 10 in the 38300 block of 9th Street East, across from Palmdale City Hall. L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby told reporters Monday that two paramedics were called to the scene, where they declared Fuller dead. The preliminary ruling was that the death was a suicide.

Two demonstrations and a march were held Saturday demanding an independent investigation into Fuller's death.

"He was not suicidal," Fuller's cousin, Pernisha Theus, told CBSLA Saturday. "He had no mental illnesses and we don't want that to be implied."

LASD Capt. Kent Wegener said that investigators will be conducting forensics on the rope itself.

"Physical analysis and tests of serology nature by our crime lab," Wegener said. "We'll also dissect the involved knot structure to determine how they were tied."

Robert Fuller 2
Robert Fuller, 24, was found dead June 10 at 3:40 a.m. outside City Hall in Palmdale. He was described by loved ones as happy and humble. (credit: CBS)

Detectives will also canvas the area for surveillance video.

Malcolm Harsch
An undated photo of Malcolm Harsch, 38, who was found dead on May 31, 2020, in Victorville, Calif. He was discovered hanging from a tree. (Facebook)

Meanwhile, back on May 31 in Victorville the body of another black man was found hanging from a tree. Malcolm Harsch, 38, was discovered at 7 a.m., hanging from a tree near a homeless encampment.

The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department also made the preliminary ruling that his death was also a suicide, although the case remains under investigation.

"Immediately, I didn't want to connect both of them together," De Avery Harsch told CBSLA Monday morning. "But the fact that the cities are 50 miles away from each other, they were similar circumstances. It's kind of hard not to think they were connected in some type of way."

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