As suspicion continues to mount over the deaths of at least three Black men who were found hanged — two in California and one in New York–the family of one of the men is calling for answers more than two weeks after he was found dead.
Malcolm Harsch, 38, was found hanging from a tree by a computer cord on May 31 by a passerby near a homeless encampment in Victorville, California, according to San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, which ruled his death a suicide.
But his brother and other family members believe that is a dubious assessment at best.
“I believe the only reason they are pursuing this investigation further is because they are receiving pressure from the public and different agencies and different community leaders,” De Avery Richardson, Harsh’s younger brother told BET.com, noting that officials haven’t come up with much since their probe began. “We haven’t gotten anything.”
Harsch was a local freelance tattoo artist who was homeless at the time of his death. Richardson said his brother had left his hometown of Warren, Ohio to get away from the street life there, which was the cause of troubles in his life. Harsch was the oldest of five siblings and had eight children. He had also been married but was separated. But Richardson said that his brother always made sure everyone around him was taken care of.“He always put other people before him, no matter what the situation may be,” said Richardson, who had connected with his brother when he was stationed by the U.S. Army in California in recent months and was making plans to see him just days before his death. “Even if you’d done him wrong in the past or weren’t on good terms. If he knew you needed something, he’d go out of his way to make sure you had it.”
But the family says that although his death was ruled a suicide, they are still waiting for all of their questions to be answered. Richardson said they were told there was an unidentified person with Harsch on the morning he was found. That individual was seen trying to cut him down from the tree. But when others came forward to help, he ran off and has not been seen since.“The only information we’ve received is that they now have 15 detectives working on the investigation and will provide updates as much as they can,” he said. A call placed by BET.com to San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department was not immediately returned. But deputies said in an earlier statement that no evidence of foul play was recovered at the scene.
An autopsy was performed on Harsch, but the family does not have results from that either, more than two weeks after he died.
“Both my sisters have been calling nonstop and asking what’s the status,” said Richardson. “The first 11 days it was, ‘he’s not on the schedule’ or ‘we’re busy right now, we’ll get to him when we can.’“
The family was then told the autopsy was complete and the body would be released. But Richardson said the medical examiner reneged saying the autopsy was not complete and a toxicology report was still pending
“And we’re still waiting on lab results determining a cause of death,” Richardson said.Richardson would not speculate on any possibilities between his brother’s death or that of Robert Fuller, 24, another Black man found hanging in Palmdale, California, 50 miles away. But he said it was “odd” that there are similarities.In that case, the FBI and California Attorney General’s office have announced they will review the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department investigation into Fuller’s death, according to CBS Los Angeles.
The death of Dominique Alexander a 27-year old Bronx, N.Y., man on June 9, was ruled a suicide by officials, after he was found hanging in Upper Manhattan.
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