Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey says errors committed by Sheriff’s deputies and a coroner’s office investigator may have played a significant role in the decision not to criminally charge Ed Buck in the death of a man who overdosed in his West Hollywood home in 2017.
Speaking Monday night to the Stonewall Democratic Club, which posted a video of the event to Facebook, Lacey told the group that responding deputies illegally searched a red toolbox inside Buck’s home on Laurel Avenue that was found near the body of Gemmel Moore in July 2017, the Los Angeles Times reported. The deputies, who were assigned to the West Hollywood station, did so based on the erroneous advice of a coroner’s department investigator at the scene, she said.
“They noticed around Mr. Moore’s body that there was a red toolbox. And they wanted to search that toolbox for evidence. A coroner’s investigator gave them information that turned out to be incorrect,” she said.
Moore’s death in 2017 has long served as a crucible for Lacey, who has repeatedly been blasted by activists in the LGBT and African American communities for failing to hold Buck accountable for alleged predatory behavior toward young men. Another man, Timothy Dean, died of an overdose in Buck’s home in January of this year and a third man nearly suffered the same fate in September, according to court records.
Many activists have argued that the gap in status between Buck, a wealthy Democratic donor, and his victims, many of whom had been homeless and people of color, played a role in the decision not to prosecute him.
Buck was arrested in September, more than two years after Moore’s death, and charged with running a drug den. A short time later, federal prosecutors charged Buck with providing the drugs that led to both Moore*s and Dean*s deaths as well as three counts of drug distribution.
Buck faces a minimum of 20 years in federal prison if convicted. Buck was represented at his arraignment in federal court by a public defender. Seymour Amster, who has represented Buck in the past, has declined to say whether he still represents Buck.
The details of the federal indictment only intensified questions about why it took so long to charge Buck, despite the fact that several men had come forward and claimed Buck engaged in predatory behavior and injected them with drugs against their will.
Prosecutors cited an “inadmissible search and seizure” among the reasons not to prosecute Buck in connection with Moore’s death when they filed a memo declining to charge him with manslaughter in 2018. But neither Lacey nor the Sheriff’s Department has answered questions beyond that one document.