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California city officials call for investigation into death of black man found hanging from tree

Officials in Palmdale, California, are calling for an independent investigation and autopsy in the case of Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old black man whose body was found hanging from a tree near Palmdale City Hall earlier in the week.

At around 3:40 a.m. on June 10, a passerby found Fuller hanging from the tree across the street from City Hall, CBS Los Angeles reports. The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department initially said Fuller died by suicide, but his family believes he was lynched, and has demanded a full investigation into what happened.

On Saturday, the City of Palmdale joined in on the family's call, saying, "We will settle for nothing less than a thorough accounting of this matter."

"The City has already reached out to Mr. Fuller's family, offering help and support, and will do everything possible to assist Mr. Fuller's family during this difficult time as a complete vetting of his death is investigated," the statement said.

"We are all grieving the loss of this young man and our hearts go out to his family and friends during this difficult time," Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer said in a statement Friday. "We also understand the community's call for a full investigation into this death, and we are asking the same."

Hofbauer said he is determined to find out what happened and that the city would cooperate with the agencies investigating Fuller's death. He also said they will work with community leaders to "increase the dialogue on how we can best work together and build a safer and more inclusive community."

State Senator Scott Wilk, Assembly Member Tom Lackey and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor Chair Kathryn Barger all announced their support for an independent investigation as well.

Debra Lemle, Fuller's cousin, and dozens of others went to Palmdale City Hall on Friday to urge the community to support a homicide investigation

"It is a lynching. We have a lot of questions that we need answers to," she said, according to CBS Los Angeles.

Another cousin, Pernisha Theus, said that "he was not suicidal and he had no mental illnesses."

Dozens of people have taken to social media and attended protests, calling on the city to look at surrounding video footage to determine how Fuller died. A petition demanding the police department conduct a "thorough and transparent" investigation and provide all video surveillance from City Hall and the the surrounding buildings was created following Fuller's death. As of Saturday, it had garnered over 150,500 signatures.

City officials have said there were no working security cameras in the area, reported CBS LA.

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