Latest Information from Malcolm Harsch Death Investigation
Thank you very much for reaching out to the City of Victorville to voice your concerns regarding the tragic death of Malcolm Harsch. We take seriously the need for transparency and answers in this case, so I wanted to share with you the latest information regarding the investigation.
During its investigation, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department located surveillance video that confirms there was no foul play in Malcolm's death. This past Friday, Malcolm's family announced that they reviewed the surveillance video and they confirmed there was no foul play in Malcolm's death.
This is a devastating time for Malcolm's family and friends, and I know you join all of us at the City of Victorville in grieving for them.
Enclosed for your information is an article from the Daily Press written by reporter, Martin Estacio that includes statements from Malcolm's family. This article can also be viewed on the Daily Press website.
DAILY PRESS ARTICLE FROM JUNE 19, 2020:
Sheriff's: Video shows Harsch suicide
Family reviews evidence, confirms 38-year-old Black man hanged himself May 31 in Victorville
By Martin Estacio
The Daily Press
SAN BERNARDINO ? Surveillance video that authorities say shows Malcolm Harsch hanging himself in Victorville late last month was released Thursday and Friday to the man's family members, who then issued a statement confirming the suicide.
The video evidence, captured May 31 from two surveillance cameras on buildings on Victor Street, was also shown to a group of reporters at San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department headquarters Friday afternoon.
A man in a white shirt, who authorities identified as Harsch, can be seen in the video near two tents in a homeless encampment. He throws objects, which authorities said were donuts, at one tent after an argument with his girlfriend, who was inside the tent.
Harsch is then seen wrapping what investigators said was an HDMI cord around his neck at approximately 6 a.m. May 31, according to the video's timestamp. He then walks over to a nearby tree, where he can ben seen wrapping something around a branch. His body drops and disappears from view after that as the branch bends.
Sgt. Steve Allen, with the Victorville's Sheriff's Station, said everything investigators collected was also shown to members of Harsch's family on Thursday and Friday.
He said he hoped "to dispel some of the myths" See HARSCH, A6
An undated photo of Malcolm Harsch. [PHOTO COURTESY OF THE HARSCH FAMILY]
From Page A1
surrounding Harsch's death as protests against police violence and systemic bias continue worldwide after the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.
Harsch's brother, De'Avery Richardson, a U.S. Army soldier stationed at Fort Irwin, participated in a remote conference call with members of Harsch's family, who mostly reside in Ohio, Allen said.
In response, Najee Ali, a spokesperson for the family, released a statement that read: "On behalf of the family of Malcolm Harsch unfortunately it seems he did take his own life."
"The Victorville P
lice Department officials released new video evidence to family members," Ali wrote. "The family wants to sincerely thank everyone for their support and prayers."
Harsch's death sparked outrage and allegations of lynching as another Black man, Robert Fuller, was also found hanging from a tree June 10 in Palmdale, about 53 miles west of Victorville.
Allen said questions from Harsch's family, who initially disputed that the 38-year-old man had hung himself, prompted detectives to inquire further into his death.
Although an external autopsy turned up no evidence of foul play, a full autopsy was later performed on June 12, according to officials. Allen said the cause of death was still pending a toxicology report, but would likely result in the finding of a suicide.
The sergeant said one of the pressing questions was how blood got on Harsch's shirt when he was found. Allen said a DNA sample was taken and it was discovered to be Harsch's blood.
Sheriff's officials also played an audio recording from the belt of a deputy who stopped Harsch at around 3:17 a.m., several hours before his death. Allen said Harsch was stopped in the area of Seventh and Lincoln streets for a welfare check after being seen "yelling and screaming profanities."
In the audio, a deputy can be heard asking Harsch where the blood came from, to which Harsch indicates from his hand. Harsch sounds angry and distraught as he answers the deputy's questions.
After running Harsch's information into dispatch, the deputy can then be heard saying, "Alright, you're good to go. Don't cause no issues." Allen showed the video, fast forwarding to the time of 5:57 a.m., where he said Harsch begins to wrap the cord around his neck. Although the camera is positioned several hundred feet away, a zoomedin version was presented that showed the incident in greater detail.
According to investigators, another man witnessed Harsch's death at the encampment. He can be seen in the video near one of the tents where detectives said Harsch and his girlfriend lived as Harsch goes over to the tree.
Allen said the Sheriff's Department hadn't been unable to locate the man, identified as "Manpower," for questioning as of Friday. Allen said Manpower and two other homeless men didn't do anything about Harsch until over an hour later.
That's when the video shows them going over to his body around the time that Harsch's girlfriend emerges from the tent. Allen said she can be seen making the 911 call a little after 7 a.m.
Allen said while there is no law that addresses witnessing a suicide, there are penalties for anyone who encourages one.
According to California penal code, "any person who deliberately aids, advises, or encourages another to commit suicide is guilty of a felony." The law excludes suicide assistance in terminally- ill patients.
Harsch's girlfriend told investigators the two had been arguing about their relationship before his death, Allen said. Martin Estacio may be reached at MEstacio@VVDailyPress.com or at 760-955-5358. Follow him on Twitter @DP_mestacio.
Copyright (c) 2020 High Desert Media Group, Edition 6/20/2020
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