West Hollywood’s Ed Buck is back in the international news after a photo of a young black man visiting his apartment on North Laurel Avenue was published yesterday by the U.K.’s DailyMail.com, the world’s most heavily trafficked English-language news site.
The photo shows the young man with a bandage on his arm and carrying a bundle of paper towels as he enters Buck’s apartment at 1234 N. Laurel Ave. It was tweeted Friday by Jasmyne Cannick, an activist who has been a leader in the campaign to have Buck, a 65-year-old gay white man, prosecuted for the deaths of two black men found dead of meth overdoses in Buck’s apartment. Gemmel Moore, 26, was found dead in July 2017, and Timothy Dean, 55, died in Buck’s apartment on Jan. 7 this year.
It is not clear when the photo was taken, and the identity of the photographer is not cited in the tweet. However, residents of Buck’s apartment building have, in the past, alerted media as they have seen young
Buck’s lawyer, Seymour Amster, has denied that his client had any responsibility for the deaths of Moore or Dean, a salesperson at Saks in Beverly Hills and a porn star, who has been described as a friend of Buck’s. Buck has maintained profiles on gay sex hookup sites such as Adam4Adam in which he has solicited young black men to visit him. Buck paid to fly Moore, a self-described sex worker who had lived in Los Angeles, from his mother’s home in Texas to visit him on the day that he died.
An initial report by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office determined that Moore’s death was an accident caused by a drug overdose. An investigation by Coroner’s Office found Buck’s apartment littered with drug paraphernalia and a copy of Moore’s diary, which was given to LaTisha Nixon, his mother. Cannick published on her website an entry in Moore’s diary in which he described Buck as having injected him with methamphetamine, a highly dangerous drug. “I honestly don’t know what to do. I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that,” a December 2017 entry read. “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.”
It was after publication of entries from Moore’s journal that the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau opened an investigation into his death. In July 2018, the District Attorney’s office declined to file charges against Buck citing insufficient evidence. However, the Sheriff’s Department reopened its investigation after Dean’s death and it is said to be continuing, with homicide detectives visiting young black sex workers in cities as far away as New York who have alleged that Buck has recruited them to fly to his home in West Hollywood.
Meanwhile, attorneys for Gemmel Moore’s mother have filed a civil suit in U.S. District Court against Buck and District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Assistant Head Deputy D.A. Craig Hum. It seeks damages against Buck for the wrongful death of Gemmel Moore, sexual battery, drug dealer liability, premises liability, negligence per se, intentional infliction of emotional distress and hate violence. D.A. Lacey and Craig Hum are named as co-defendants for allegedly violating Gemmel Moore’s civil rights in what the lawsuit claims is a “race-based” refusal to prosecute Buck. A hearing is scheduled for Monday in downtown Los Angeles at which attorneys for Buck and L.A. County are expected to petition the judge to dismiss the lawsuit.
There have been multiple demonstrations outside Buck’s apartment building and outside West Hollywood City Council meetings by activists and friends of Moore and Dean protesting what demonstrators see as a lack of action by law enforcement and the district attorney’s office. The Ed Buck issue also has been an awkward one for local and state Democratic Party politicians, to whom Buck has been a regular financial donor. Activists have demanded that those who have received donations from Buck effectively return the money by donating it to Justice4Gemmel, a fund established to support the campaign against Buck.
The four members of the West Hollywood City Council who have received donations from Buck – Mayor John D’Amico and council members John Duran, John Heilman, and Lauren Meister – have declined to return the donations, stating that the money they received from Buck already has been spent. D’Amico, who was first elected to the Council with strong support from Buck for his agreement to push forward a ban on fur sales in West Hollywood, has noted that he and his husband have donated to other charitable causes.