The FBI, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and the US Attorney's office for the Central District of California are reviewing investigations into the recent hanging deaths of two black men in Southern California to determine if foul play or civil rights violations played a role.
The deaths of the two men, Robert Fuller, 24, and Malcolm Harsch, 38, occurred in the cities of Victorville and Palmdale 10 days and 50 miles apart. Both deaths were initially reported as suspected suicides by the Los Angeles and San Bernardino sheriff’s departments and are now under further investigation by the local departments.
"The FBI, U.S. Attorney's office for the Central District of California and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division are actively reviewing the investigations into the hanging deaths of two African American men in the cities of Palmdale and Victorville to determine whether foul play or civil rights violations played a role,” a spokesperson for the FBI Los Angeles Field Office said in a statement.
Fuller was found hanging from a tree in Palmdale on the morning of June 10. Nothing but the rope, contents of his pockets, and a backpack that he was wearing were found on the scene, Los Angeles County Homicide Capt. Kent Wegener said Monday.
Investigators are researching Fuller’s medical history and looking for the witness who reported Fuller’s body as well as searching for contacts in Arizona and Nevada. Sheriff’s investigators will also analyze Fuller’s cell phone and are also looking for neighborhood surveillance video.
About 50 miles away, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department is also investigating Harsch's death near a homeless encampment on May 31. Investigators there have not recovered evidence of foul play, the sheriff’s department said.