Funeral services will be held Tuesday for Robert Fuller, the 24-year-old Palmdale man whose body was found hanging from a tree in a park across the street from Palmdale City Hall.
A church service at Cathedral of Worship in the northern Los Angeles County community of Littlerock is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. The service will follow coronavirus protocols, including sanctuary seating by invitation only and everyone in attendance will be wearing a mask and socially distanced.
A live stream of the event will be available.
A passerby found Fuller's body hanging from a tree in Poncitlan Square about 3:40 a.m. on June 10 and his death was initially ruled a suicide by Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives, although an official cause of death has not been made.
The family has called for further investigation.
“The Sheriff's Department immediately declared his death a suicide without completing a full and thorough investigation," said attorney Jamon R. Hicks with Douglas/Hicks Law. "The lack of investigation and dismissal of this as a potential murder or hate crime has enraged Mr. Fuller's family and the entire Antelope Valley community.
"To rush to the conclusion that this was a suicide and not a homicide is extremely disturbing. Especially given the manner by which Mr. Fuller was found -- hanging from a tree," Hicks continued. "For African-Americans in America, hanging from a tree is a lynching. Why was this cavalierly dismissed as a suicide and not investigated as a murder?"
Hicks said the family is asking for the independent autopsy to be paid for by the city of Palmdale.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has vowed to conduct a thorough investigation into the death -- with cooperation from state and federal law enforcement. Villanueva has said he called state Attorney General Xavier Berea and reached out to the FBI, whose civil rights division will also monitor the investigation.
"It is in our interest to make sure that we leave no rock unturned," Villanueva said, promising full access to outside investigators. "This death investigation obviously is of great concern to the community, not only of Palmdale, but throughout the nation. Robert Fuller was a young man in the prime of his life, and his death obviously is painful for many people."
On May 31 in Victorville, which is in San Bernardino County 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 County 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. And, like Fuller's family, Harsch's relatives are doubtful he took his own life.