WEST HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) – The mother of one of two men who died at the West Hollywood condo of prominent Democratic donor Ed Buck in a period of 18 months has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against both Buck and the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
On July 27, 2017, 26-year-old Gemmel Moore overdosed to death at Buck’s condo in the 1200 block of Laurel Avenue.
The coroner’s office said drug paraphernalia was found at the scene and ruled the death as an accidental methamphetamine overdose. Buck, who is in his 60s, was present at the time of Moore’s death, but the DA’s office declined to bring charges against him.
On Jan. 7, a second man, 55-year-old Timothy Dean of West Hollywood, was also found dead at Buck’s home. The cause of Dean’s death has not yet been released. Buck was also home at the time of Dean’s death.
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and the DA’s office are currently investigating Dean’s death, as well as doing a “secondary review” of Moore’s death.
According to a charge-evaluation worksheet prepared by the DA’s office in Moore’s death, 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.”
The lawsuit brought by Moore’s mother LaTisha Nixon seeks general and punitive damages against Buck and the DA’s office for wrongful death, sexual battery, assault, hate violence, civil rights violations and drug dealer liability. Both Moore and Dean were gay, black men.
“This lawsuit helps to protect a very vulnerable population of gay black men by exposing details of Buck’s predatory and racially-discriminatory actions against gay black men,” said Nixon’s attorney Nana Gymafi in a statement.
The lawsuit accuses the DA’s office of giving preferential treatment to Buck because he is white.
The DA’s office “knowingly maintains and permits official sub-rosa policies or customs of permitting the occurrence of the kinds of wrongs set forth above, by failing and refusing to impartially prosecute white men, like Mr. Buck, who commit felonious crimes of narcotics possession and physical violence against black men, including Mr. Moore,” the lawsuit reads.
Since Dean’s death, rallies have been held outside Buck’s apartment, with protesters calling for his arrest.
Buck, a well-known activist, has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates through the years. One of those donations of $100 went to current L.A. County DA Jackie Lacey in 2012. Her campaign claims that money was returned in February of 2018 in the wake of Moore’s death. Lacey is one of two people named as defendants in the lawsuit, along with Assistant Head Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum.
On Tuesday morning, the racial justice group Color of Change delivered a petition to the DA’s office it said contained 30,000 signatures demanding that Buck be prosecuted in the two deaths.
Originally from Arizona, Buck reportedly made millions selling a courier company and moved to West Hollywood in the early 1990s.
Buck made headlines in September 2010 when he disrupted a campaign event for then-California Republican Party gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. He was confronted by former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, has denied that Buck had any involvement in either death. Earlier this month, Buck refused to comment on the cases when confronted by CBS2.