Video has reportedly confirmed a black man found hanging from a tree at a Southern California homeless encampment killed himself after breaking up with his girlfriend.
Malcolm Harsch, 38, whose hanging death in Victorville, California, May 31 prompted concerns he had been lynched, died by suicide, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department on Friday.
Sheriff's officials played for reporters a video from a nearby vacant building that showed Harsch, 38, wrapping a blue electronics cable around his neck, tying the ends to a tree limb and then letting himself fall, The Mercury News reported.
The tree was adjacent to the tents where he and a former girlfriend lived in a dirt field.
Harsch had been on suicide watch in two of his recent bookings in San Bernardino County jails on suspicion of minor crimes, Sgt. Steve Allen told the news outlet.
According to the news outlet, at 3:15 a.m. PT on May 31, a deputy stopped to question Harsch, who was seen walking down a street, shouting. The deputy asked Harsch why he had blood on his shirt, according to an audiotape played for reporters. Harsch said he had cut his hand. He told the deputy he was walking away from someone.
The deputy checked Harsch's name against the criminal warrants database and let Harsch go on his way.
Just past dawn, Harsch and his girlfriend broke up amid mutual allegations of infidelity.
"I'm going to make one of your homeboys my new boyfriend," Allen said she told investigators.
Harsch and the woman argued, and the video showed Harsch throwing donuts at her tent. Minutes later, with the woman still in her tent and another transient apparently watching, Harsch hanged himself, the news outlet reported.
Before medics arrived, other transients pulled Harsch down from the tree and ran to the nearby Victory Outreach church. Two people from the church performed CPR for 15 minutes, Allen said.
Harsch was pronounced dead at the scene. The coroner's official finding of the cause of death is pending the results of a toxicology test.
Harsch's family, which had seen the video, released a statement accepting that he died from suicide.
Robert Fuller, 24, who was found hanging from a tree last week in Palmdale, California. Initial findings it was likely a suicide led to protests and calls for an independent investigation. The FBI and U.S. Department of Justice are reviewing the investigations into his death.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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