The mysterious death of a 24-year old African American in Palmdale, California, has sparked outrage in the city. A passerby found the body of Robert Fuller hanging from a tree near the city hall on Wednesday.
Officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Homicide Bureau and the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office too reached the site. Although the investigation is pending and autopsy results are awaited, authorities claimed outright that Fuller died of suicide, causing an intense public outcry.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department issued a statement on its Facebook page, stating: "It appears Mr. Fuller, tragically, committed suicide". The same was echoed by city officials who attributed Fuller's death to economic despair caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Daily Beast reported.
At the press conference on Friday afternoon, when the city officials asserted that he committed suicide, several attendees shouted at them, saying that Fuller had attended a Black Lives Matter protest shortly before he died. Palmdale residents have also asked why Fuller chose to hang himself in front of the city hall. They further questioned the statement of Captain Ron Shaffer of the Palmdale police that no video footage of the incident was available though it took place at such a sensitive location.
Protesters rallied on Friday seeking justice for Fuller. They chanted slogans and held signs of 'Black Lives Matter', 'Release the Footage' and 'No Justice No Peace'. An online petition seeking justice for Fuller has been signed by over 82,000 people. It has sought a thorough and transparent investigation by Palmdale Police Department and has called for all video surveillance from city hall & the surrounding buildings/area to be provided.
The incident took place at a time when protests over racism are ravaging throughout the United States. The protests were sparked by the brutal murder of George Floyd, a 46-year old African-American man, by white Minneapolis police officer, on May 25.