Democratic megadonor Ed Buck will remain free, at least for now.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey has returned the case against the high-profile West Hollywood resident to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, asking the homicide bureau to gather more evidence in the suspicious overdose deaths of two black gay men.
In January, 55-year-old Timothy Dean died from methamphetamine and alcohol poisoning at the West Laurel Avenue apartment. Dean’s death followed the July 2017 methamphetamine overdose of 26-year-old Gemmel Moore at the same address.
Lacey previously declined to press charges against Buck for Moore’s death, sparking protest from Moore’s family and community activists. After Dean died, the Sheriff’s Department began looking into both deaths, however.
For years, Buck has faced allegations of drugging young black men for sexual pleasure. Residents claim his political donations, which include two to Lacey ($100 in 2012 and 2018, respectively) have historically protected him. Dean’s death rocked the two-mile gayborhood of West Hollywood.
Shiara Davila-Morales, a spokesperson for Lacey’s Office, however, says in a statement to NewNowNext that the Dean investigation was returned, making no mention of the status of the Moore investigation.
“On July 9, our office asked for further investigation that includes forensic analysis, interviewing additional people and reviewing medical records,” Davila-Morales says.
Lisa Belsanti, a spokesperson for the City of West Hollywood, says her office has limited information on why Lacey’s office returned that case, but notes that both cases have been sent to the District Attorney.
“The Supervising Lieutenant from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Homicide Bureau, says the case involving the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean at the West Hollywood apartment of Ed Buck has been presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office,” Belsanti tells NewNowNext.
Belsanti was unable to provide clarification on the status of the Moore case by publication.
Quilmes Rodriguez, the lead detective on the Dean case, says his unit is searching for an additional witness and seeking more lab results before giving the case back to the District Attorney. Rodriguez previously reported that Buck had not cooperated with investigators.
“He was detained for several hours and we attempted to interview him, but he refused to speak with us and invoked his right to remain silent,” says Rodriguez.
More than eight witnesses were furnished to detectives who claimed Buck drugged them or they observed Buck drugging men in the West Hollywood home, according to Nana Gyamfi, an attorney for Dean and Moore’s families.
“The whole thing is just preposterous,” says Gyamfi. “I don’t know how many people you need to establish a pattern [for] what is clear and apparent.”
In March, the LA County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner ruled Dean’s death an accidental overdose. Dean was found on a mattress littered with drug paraphernalia and sex toys on Buck’s floor on January 7, according to an autopsy.
That report noted that Buck waited 15 minutes after finding an unresponsive Dean before calling 911. Buck reported that he tried to perform CPR on Dean. He told authorities that Dean acted bizarrely upon arrival.
“[Buck], the witness, observed [Dean] using a piece of clothing to make a noose and tied it around his neck,” the autopsy states.
Detectives noted that they didn’t find anything resembling a noose at the home that night.
Moore’s mother LaTisha Nixon is pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit against Buck and Lacey. The case accuses Buck of human trafficking and revenge porn.
According to Moore’s family, the 26-year-old wrote in his journal that Buck was “to thank” for his drug addiction.
“I just hope the end result isn’t death,” Moore reportedly wrote. “If it didn’t hurt so bad I’d kill myself, but I’ll let Ed Buck do it for now.”
Dean’s friend’s similarly claimed that Dean, who knew Buck for years, feared the political donor. According to The Daily Beast, Dean told friends that Buck was “the “fucking devil.”
But Buck’s Attorney Seymour Amster has steadfastly claimed his client’s innocence, stating that both men arrived at Buck’s already intoxicated on the night of their deaths. Amster did not respond to NewNowNext’s request to comment for this story.
In February, activists delivered more than 30,000 signatures to Lacey calling for Buck’s arrest.