City Council members, LGBT leaders call for aggressive investigation
In less than two years, two men have been found dead at prominent Democratic donor and LGBT community member Ed Buck’s West Hollywood home, a development that has West Hollywood council members and local LGBT leaders urging authorities to launch a full investigation.
At 1:05 a.m. Monday morning, West Hollywood sheriff’s deputies responded to a report that a person was not breathing at Buck’s Laurel Avenue apartment. Authorities say the person who called attempted to perform CPR, but the man was pronounced dead at the scene, the cause of death yet unknown.
“The dead man’s name has not been released, but Nicole Nishida, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Department, said he was black,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “Buck previously was investigated for the death of another black man, the 2017 overdose of Gemmel Moore, 26.”
Authorities stated Monday that Buck was present for both deaths and announced that they are conducting a “thorough investigation” into the second death and that they will now reopen a “followup” investigation into Moore’s death, which occurred in July 2017.
“Investigators are conducting a thorough investigation, which includes follow up interviews and a secondary review of the July 27, 2017 incident,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement Monday. “As with the previous incident, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office was intimately involved in reviewing the facts of the case, and will be so in this case as well.”
The attorney of the Democrat donor said he believes the second man died of an ”accidental overdose.”
“From what I know, it was an old friend who died of an accidental overdose, and unfortunately, we believe that the substance was ingested at some place other than the apartment,” said Buck’s attorney Seymour Amster, the Times reports. “The person came over intoxicated.”
In part due to the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Moore, local officials are calling on law enforcement to launch a “full investigation” and “aggressively” pursue justice.
Moore, a male escort who had been homeless, was found naked on a mattress in the living room of Buck’s apartment in July 2017. He was surrounded by syringes, glass pipes and other drug paraphernalia.
The coroner ruled it an accidental overdose, and prosecutors ultimately chose not to pursue any charges — they considered murder, voluntary manslaughter, and furnishing and possessing drugs — saying the evidence did not sufficiently prove that Buck supplied Moore the drugs that killed him.
But Moore’s mother and friends have pushed back on the findings, questioning if Buck’s political ties, race and class played into the investigation, and “whether the drugs that killed him were self-administered,” the Times reports.
A journal found among Moore’s possessions reportedly included an entry naming Buck as the man who got him addicted to crystal meth: “I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that. Ed Buck is the one to thank, he gave me my first injection of chrystal [sic] meth,” the entry read. “I just hope the end result isn’t death…. If it didn’t hurt so bad I’d kill myself but I’ll let Ed Buck do it for now.”