City Councilmember John D’Amico has asked L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to delay the transfer from West Hollywood of Sheriff’s Capt. Sergio Aloma until the conclusion of the investigation of the death on Monday of Timothy Dean at the Laurel Avenue apartment of Ed Buck.
Aloma, who heads the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, has been promoted to commander and is scheduled to be reassigned as of Sunday to the downtown Los Angeles Custody Division.
“As the Mayor Pro Tempore of the City of West Hollywood, I am respectfully requesting that the reassignment of West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station Captain Sergio Aloma be delayed until the investigation … has been concluded,” D’Amico said in his letter to Villanueva. “As you are likely aware, the recent death of Timothy Dean, which follows the 2017 death of Gemmel Moore at the same location, has sparked intense response, has impacted neighborhood residents, and has created new concerns and challenges for our community.”
“I feel that losing Captain Aloma at this time sends the wrong message to our community. The fact that he is being assigned to the Custody Division rather than remaining in North Patrol leaves a void of knowledge and leadership at this trying time.”
The death of Dean, a 55-year-old African American man, occurred 17 months after the death of Gemmel Moore, a 26-year African-American sex worker, at Buck’s apartment. The L.A. County Coroner’s Office ruled that Moore’s death was an accident caused by an overdose of methamphetamine, a highly addictive and dangerous drug that has had a significant impact on the gay community. The cause of Dean’s death has not yet been made public. However, Seymour Amster, Buck’s attorney, has suggested that it also Involved drugs and insists his client is not to blame. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Amster said that Dean “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. The person came over-intoxicated.”
Dean’s death prompted a rally outside Buck’s Laurel Avenue apartment on Tuesday night, with demands for Buck’s arrest. Another one is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday. Also 41 national civil rights and LGBTQ rights organizations including the ACLU of Southern California have called for a thorough investigation into Dean’s death and another look at Moore’s death. The L.A. County District Attorney’s Office declined to file charges against Buck in that matter, saying it had insufficient evidence to convict him.
Aloma’s replacement likely will take some time. Typically the Sheriff’s Department presents three candidates for review by West Hollywood City Manager Paul Arevalo, who then passes along a recommendation to the Sheriff, who makes the final decision. That can take months, as it did when Aloma was finally chosen in March 2017 to replace then-Capt. Holly Perez, who was promoted to a commander position after 12 months at the West Hollywood Station.
As a so-called “contract city,” West Hollywood contracts with the Sheriff’s Department for public safety services, spending more than $20 million a year.
In his letter to Villanueva, D’Amico said that he believes “that maintaining a strong consistent voice from the leadership of our Sheriff’s Station is crucial at this time.”