Coroner’s officials Thursday identified the man who died at the West Hollywood home of prominent Democratic donor Ed Buck earlier this week as 55-year-old Timothy Dean of West Hollywood, as pressure grew on prosecutors to pursue criminal charges against Buck, who made headlines for a similar incident in 2017.
Dean was found dead early Monday at Buck’s apartment in the 1200 block of Laurel Avenue.
Deputies from the sheriff’s West Hollywood Station responded about 1:05 a.m. Monday to the apartment regarding a person not breathing. The caller performed CPR and called 911, and paramedics pronounced the man dead at the scene, according to Deputy Charles Moore of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Homicide detectives were sent to investigate, and the cause of Dean’s death was under investigation by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, Moore said.
In July 2017, the body of 26-year-old Gemmel Moore was found at the same apartment. The coroner’s office ruled Moore’s death an accidental methamphetamine overdose, to the dismay of his family, who wanted prosecutors to charge Buck with a crime.
Buck was present at the location when both deaths occurred, according to the sheriff’s department.
Dmitry Gorin, a defense attorney and former deputy district attorney, told the Los Angeles Times there is a high bar to prove someone is culpable in a death involving drugs. Typically, there needs to be a witness who saw the accused administer or furnish the substance that caused death, according to The Times.
“Two people dying from overdose is likely more than a coincidence, but the district attorney needs witnesses and physical evidence to prove a criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt in court,” Gorin told The Times.
Buck has been a prominent donor to Democratic candidates and office holders. He has been active in LGBTQ political circles and also once ran for a seat on the West Hollywood City Council.
Community activist Jasmyne Cannick, who worked closely with Moore’s family, has called for Buck’s arrest, prosecution and conviction, and 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.”
On Thursday, Cannick released a statement from attorney Nana Gyamfi on behalf of LaTisha Nixon, Moore’s mother, that read, in part:
“On behalf of LaTisha Nixon, the family of Gemmel Moore and myself, I want to express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Timothy Dean found dead in Ed Buck’s apartment.
“We are heartbroken. We are sickened. We are outraged.
“This was an avoidable tragedy. We are clear that this Black man’s death is the direct result of the failure of law enforcement and District Attorney Jackie Lacey to charge and prosecute Ed Buck for the murder of Gemmel Moore and the crimes he committed against all of his victims.
“Ms. Nixon and I warned sheriff’s department homicide detectives in every one of our meetings with them that Ed Buck would kill again if they did not stop him. Instead of heeding our warnings and following the leads we presented to them, they spent our meeting time alternatively trying to convince us that there was not evidence to charge Ed Buck with a crime or that even if there was enough evidence, the charges would not worth pursuing. …”
Later Thursday, a coalition of 41 LGBTQ and other groups — including the National Black Justice Coalition, National LGBTQ Task Force, and American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California — also called for further action.
“We, the undersigned organizations working to advance and empower the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community, act in solidarity with the victims and those impacted by both tragic deaths of Black men at Ed Buck’s home in less than two years,” the statement said. “We will work in earnest to understand what happened to these men who lost their lives — Mr. Timothy Dean who died on Monday, and Mr. Gemmel Moore, who died under seemingly similar circumstances in July 2017 — and why Buck continues to maintain unsafe spaces for Black gay men.
“Given serious and legitimate concerns about how the Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office have handled both investigations — including a failure to share critical and timely information about both cases with the greater Los Angeles LGBTQ community and the media — we also believe that an independent, thorough review of their actions is warranted and urge both to make all appropriate, procedural reforms to address the systemic inequities that lead predators to target Black LGBTQ people.”
The DA’s office released the following statement Thursday:
“The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has been in communication with detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Due to the pending investigation, we decline further comment at this time.”
Cannick said Nixon would be at a candlelight vigil for both Moore and Dean on Friday at 7 p.m. in front of Buck’s apartment.
The sheriff’s department has said the District Attorney’s Office would 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 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.
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.
Nixon earlier said she and 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 had previously been homeless and worked as an escort.
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