A wrongful death civil rights lawsuit has been filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court against California Democratic major Ed Buck, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Assistant Head Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum in the 2017 death of 26-year-old Gemmel Moore. The suit has been filed on behalf of Moore’s estate and his mother LaTisha Nixon.
Gemmel Moore was found dead of a crystal meth overdose in California Democratic major donor Ed Buck’s West Hollywood home on July 27, 2017. Moore’s death was immediately classified as an accidental methamphetamine overdose by the coroner. 19 days later after Moore’s journal was published by journalist Jasmyne Cannick and appeared in news reports, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s homicide bureau opened an investigation. On July 26, 2018, the District Attorney’s office, under the leadership of DA Jackie Lacey assisted by Assistant Head Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum, declined to file charges against Ed Buck in connection with Gemmel Moore’s death citing insufficient evidence.
“Our hope is that this lawsuit will bring some modicum of justice for Gemmel and all of Ed Buck’s victims,” said Nana Gymafi, human rights and criminal defense attorney and co-counsel for Ms. Nixon. “Gemmel cries out to us in his journals and his words to family and friends to hold Ed Buck accountable for his torture and death at Ed Buck’s hands. There is an aspect of this lawsuit that is about holding Ed Buck accountable in the language that he as a wealthy political donor understands–money. Ed Buck can never fully compensate Gemmel’s mother and his family for hurting and killing Gemmel as we have alleged, but as a wealthy donor, it is only fitting that he take the funds he uses to influence politicians like Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey to atone for his crimes against Gemmel. Additionally, Gemmel’s family has been clear since Gemmel was killed that they seek justice for all of Ed Buck’s victims as well as the prevention of future victims. This lawsuit helps to protect a very vulnerable population of gay Black men by exposing details of Buck’s predatory and racially-discriminatory actions against gay Black men. Ed Buck has already felt the pressure with the work that journalist Jasmyne Cannick and Justice4Gemmel and All of Ed Buck’s Victims have done to lift the sheets off of Buck and his deadly and racist predations. If Ed Buck had any decency at all, he would have already come forward and apologized and offered to compensate Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean’s families for the terrible harm and trauma he has caused through his actions. But, Buck is not a decent human being, and so we are forced to bring this lawsuit to get some accountability and justice.”
The lawsuit is seeking damages against Ed Buck for wrongful death, sexual battery, drug dealer liability, premises liability, negligence per se, intentional infliction of emotional distress and hate violence.
District Attorney Lacey and Assistant Head Deputy District Attorney Hum are named as co-defendants for their violating Gemmel Moore’s civil rights in their race-based refusal to prosecute Ed Buck, which ultimately resulted in the January 7, 2019 death of Timothy Dean under almost identical circumstances that should have been prevented.
The civil rights causes of action against Lacey and Hum were historically used against prosecutors who similarly refused to prosecute Ku Klux Klansmen for their violent crimes against Black people.
“The filing of a civil lawsuit against Ed Buck is an important step forward on the path towards justice for Gemmel Moore,” said Hussain Turk, social justice lawyer and co-counsel for Ms. Nixon. “Until now, Ed Buck has avoided prosecution by the very same elected officials and law enforcement agents whose pockets he’s been lining with hundreds of thousands of dollars in election campaign and legal defense fund contributions since 2007. That is why this lawsuit also names the County of Los Angeles, District Attorney Jackie Lacey, and Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum as defendants alongside Ed Buck. Their refusal to criminally prosecute Ed Buck because he is white is an unjust and unequal application of the law that violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. If the dead body of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed white man was found in the home of an older Black man, he’d be lucky to even make it to the police station alive. But on DA Lacey’s and DDA Hum’s watch, Ed Buck hasn’t even been formally questioned for his involvement in the deaths of not one, but two Black men. DA Lacey’s and DDA Hum’s unconstitutional failure to act is reprehensible and where their misapplication of criminal justice has consistently failed the Black community, this lawsuit will hold Ed Buck, DA Lacey and DDA Hum accountable in the only way our civil justice system knows how–monetary damages. But money, of course, will never bring back the two beautiful Black men who died on Ed Buck’s living room floor.”
In his journal, Moore wrote, “I honestly don’t know what to do. I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that,” a December entry reads. “Ed Buck is the one to thank. He gave me my first injection of crystal meth it was very painful, but after all the troubles, I became addicted to the pain and fetish/fantasy.”
“My life is at an alltime [sic] high right now & I mean that from all ways. I ended up back at Buck [sic] house again and got munipulated [sic] into slamming again. I even went to the point where I was forced to doing 4 within a 2day [sic] period. This man is crazy and its [sic] sad. Will I ever get help?”
“Slamming” refers to gay men injecting drugs such as mephedrone, GHB, or crystal meth.
In addition to seeking general damages, the lawsuit also seeks an undetermined amount of punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.
For more information, please visit justice4gemmel.org.