A man was found dead early today at the West Hollywood apartment of prominent Democratic donor Ed Buck, where another man was found dead of what authorities deemed a drug overdose in 2017.
Deputies from the sheriff’s West Hollywood Station responded about 1:05 a.m. to the 1200 block of Laurel Avenue regarding a person not breathing. The caller performed CPR and called 911, and Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel pronounced the man dead at the scene, according to Deputy Charles Moore of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau. Homicide detectives were sent to the scene.
The man’s name was not immediately released and his cause of death was under investigation by the county coroner’s office, Moore said.
Buck made headlines when the body of 26-year-old Gemmel Moore was found at the same apartment on July 27, 2017. The coroner’s office ruled Moore’s death an accidental methamphetamine overdose, to the dismay of his family.
Buck was present at the location when both deaths occurred, according to the sheriff’s department.
A group of activists held a rally and vigil outside Buck’s apartment tonight, calling for Buck to be arrested and prosecuted. Community activist Jasmyne Cannick, who worked closely with Moore’s family, announced the rally, saying in a statement that the person found dead Monday morning was also a young black man who died of an apparent overdose inside Buck’s Laurel Avenue apartment.
The Los Angeles LGBT Center issued a statement calling on the sheriff’s department “to fully investigate this tragedy and aggressively seek justice wherever the investigation might lead.”
“The reports we have heard provide more questions than answers,” according to the statement. “The fact is two black men have died at Mr. Buck’s home in less than two years.
“While much is still to be learned, it appears this tragedy is linked to substance use.”
The statement went on to note that “LGBT people and other marginalized groups are at elevated risk for impacts that result from the current epidemic uses of opioids, methamphetamine, and other dangerous drugs.”
The center, which offers free or low-cost addiction recovery services as well as free fentanyl testing strips to those who request them, urged anyone in need to email [email protected] or call (323) 993-7448.
The sheriff’s department said the District Attorney’s Office will be closely involved in reviewing the latest case, as it was in the Moore case, which will also be the subject of “a secondary review” by sheriff’s homicide detectives.
Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, has denied that Buck had any involvement in either death.
Los Angeles County prosecutors last July 26 declined to pursue criminal charges against Buck stemming from Moore’s death.
According to a charge-evaluation worksheet prepared by the District Attorney’s Office, the evidence was “insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (Buck) is responsible for the death of Gemmel Moore. Likewise, the admissible evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that suspect Buck furnished drugs to Gemmel Moore or that suspect Buck possessed drugs.”
In ruling Moore’s death an accident, the coroner’s office noted that there was drug paraphernalia found in the home, along with sex toys and clear plastic bags containing what was suspected to be methamphetamine, according to a coroner’s report obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
According to the newspaper, the report also noted that somebody at the scene “is suspected to be known to exchange drugs for sex,” but the name was redacted. The report said Moore was found naked on a living room mattress with a “male pornography movie playing on the television,” according to The Times.
With the death ruled accidental, however, no arrests were made and no charges were filed.
Amster has said Buck and Moore were good friends, and told The Times that Buck did not witness Moore injecting drugs the night he died.
Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon, continued to push the sheriff’s department to investigate her son’s death. She noted that her son had been living with her in Texas, but Buck bought him a plane ticket to return to Los Angeles, which he did the day he died. According to The Times, Moore, who was black, had previously been homeless and worked as an escort.
Buck, who is white, is a longtime political activist and noted Democratic political donor, along with being active in LGBTQ political circles. He also once ran for a seat on the West Hollywood City Council.