Watch CBS News

Protesters Call On Authorities To Investigate Hanging Deaths Of Black Men In Palmdale, Victorville

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- Protesters and city and county officials are calling on state authorities to investigate the hanging of deaths of two black men which occurred in the Los Angeles County city of Palmdale last week and the San Bernardino city of Victorville last last month.

Over the weekend, an L.A. County supervisor, a state senator and a state assembly member called for California Attorney General Xavier Beccera to investigate the death of a 24-year-old man who was found hanging from a tree across Palmdale City Hall.

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.

Pictured: Robert Fuller (Source: GoFundMe)

The community held two demonstrations and a march on Saturday to demand answers about his death and pay tribute to his life.

L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said the attorney general would "lend additional expertise and oversight into this important investigation and provide the community with the answers they deserve."

State Senator Scott Wilk and Assemblyman Tom Lackey, Republicans from the Antelope and Santa Clarita valleys, also called for Becerra to investigate the death.

The L.A. County Sheriff's Department is currently leading the investigation and has called the death a possible suicide -- something the family has said they don't believe to be the case.

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

Another Fuller family member, among others, suggested the incident was a lynching.

READ MORE: Man Found Hanging From Tree In Palmdale

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva was scheduled to hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Monday to discuss the case. Becerra was also set to hold a news conference to discuss statewide police reforms, but its unclear if he will address the Fuller case.

The city of Palmdale said in a press release on Saturday that it supports protesters' demand for a full independent investigation into what happened, saying officials "will settle for nothing less than a thorough accounting of this matter."

Protesters Call On Authorities To Investigate Hanging Deaths Of Black Men In Palmdale, Victorville
Activists hold a protest in Palmdale, Calif., on June 13, 2020, calling for an investigation into the hanging death of a black man near Palmdale City Hall on June 10. (CBSLA)

Sen. Kamala Harris weighed in on the incident, tweeting, "Robert Fuller's family and the entire Palmdale community deserve answers. There must be further investigation."

Sheriff's officials said investigators are waiting for full autopsy results and information from Fuller's relatives before making a final determination on his cause of death.

Meanwhile, back on May 31 in Victorville, which is about 50 miles east of Palmdale, the body of another black man was found hanging from a tree.

Malcolm Harsch, 38, was found at 7 a.m., hanging from a tree near a homeless encampment.

The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department has made a preliminary determination that his death was also a suicide and that no foul play was involved although the case remains under investigation.

Both deaths come as protests have been spreading worldwide, calling for accountability and justice in the deaths of African Americans.

Fuller's family has set up a GoFundMe page that has raised more than $186,000 as of Saturday evening.

Anyone with information about Fuller's death was asked to call the LASD homicide bureau at 323-890-5500.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.