The one-year anniversary of the death of Timothy Dean in the apartment of Ed Buck brought together friends who shared their memories of Dean and activists who celebrated the fact Buck is in federal prison awaiting a trial scheduled for August.
Dean, 55, an African-American man known for his sense of fashion, his work at Saks Fifth Avenue, Nieman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s, and his passion for playing basketball, was found dead in Buck’s apartment at 1234 N. Laurel Ave. on Jan. 7, 2019, of what the L.A. County Coroner’s Office ruled was an overdose of methamphetamine. His death came roughly 18 months after the death of Gemmel Moore, 26, another African-American man, of a meth overdose at the same apartment. Moore was a self-confessed sex worker who said in his diary that he had had multiple encounters with Buck that involved using methamphetamine, a highly dangerous and addictive drug.
However, it wasn’t until Sept. 11 of last year, when another African-American man who overdosed on drugs was able to flee the apartment and call 911, that law enforcement officers decided to arrest Buck. He was taken into custody at his Laurel Avenue apartment on Sept. 17. He is being held without bail on two federal charges of providing drugs resulting in death and three counts of distributing methamphetamines. Buck also faces state charges of running a drug den in his West Hollywood apartment, but the federal case, which is scheduled for trial on Aug. 4, will proceed first.
In addition to celebrating Buck’s arrest, some of those at the vigil continued their criticism of Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey for not more aggressively pursuing an investigation into Gemmel Moore’s death.
Lacey has said that an initial investigation didn’t provide sufficient evidence to ensure Buck would be convicted. “I hope this case haunts her out of office,” said Jasmyne Cannick, who helped Moore’s mother organize an effort to push for Buck’s arrest. Lacey is up for re-election in 2020.
And Hussain Turk, an attorney representing Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon, in a civil suit against Buck, announced that he and fellow attorney Nana Gyamfi also will be representing Dean’s family in a civil suit against Buck.
Turk said the suit accuses Buck of wrongful death, assault and battery, racist and hateful violence, and violating the drug dealer liability act.
Speaking to the several dozen people at the vigil, Turk said he hasn’t trusted the criminal justice system to take appropriate action, which is a reason why he and Gyamfi are representing the families of Dean and Moore in civil lawsuits. He asked that people interested in supporting those lawsuits consider making donations, which can be done online.
The vigil included a telephone call with Dean’s sister, Joann Jackson, from her home in Florida. “Today it has been a year to the day that I have not been able to see my brother, talk to my brother, hug my brother,” said Jackson, who added that she had recently visited his grave.
Other speakers included Mark Chambers, a long-time friend of Dean’s, who recalled playing with him at a gay basketball tournament in Paris in 2018 and having traveled with him to Australia and Amsterdam, among other places. Chambers said Dean was “very dramatic, very loving, very caring …He literally gave suits to homeless people.”
Jeffrey Drew, another friend of Dean’s, recalled getting up at 5:30 a.m. to go hiking with him in Runyon Canyon.
Several of the speakers criticized what they saw as unfair reporting of another aspect of Dean’s life, which was his work as an adult porn actor who performed under the name “Hole Hunter” in at least 18 films involving sex with other men and boys.
Television crews from five local stations showed up for the vigil. Also present were Mayor John D’Amico and City Councilmember Lauren Meister.Cannick thanked Councilmember Lindsey Horvath for helping make the park space available for the event but said that Horvath couldn’t attend because she was traveling.
The event also was attended by several people who have announced as candidates for West Hollywood’s November 2020 City Council election or are rumored to be announcing soon. They are Sepi Shyne, who has announced, and Steve Martin and John Erickson, who are said to be planning to run.