WEST HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) – A 55-year-old man who died at the West Hollywood home of prominent Democratic donor Ed Buck overdosed on methamphetamine and his death was ruled accidental, authorities said Monday.
Timothy Dean of West Hollywood was found dead early Jan. 7 at Buck’s apartment in the 1200 block of Laurel Avenue. It was the second death from an accidental methamphetamine overdose at the same apartment in less than 18 months and prompted renewed calls for a criminal prosecution of Buck.
Deputies from the sheriff’s West Hollywood Station responded about 1:05 a.m. the day of Dean’s death to Buck’s apartment regarding a person not breathing. The caller performed CPR and called 911, and paramedics pronounced Dean dead at the scene, according to the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
Homicide detectives were sent to investigate the death, the cause of which had been under investigation by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
“The coroner’s office found Timothy Dean died as a result of a methamphetamine overdose,” according to a sheriff’s department statement. “His death was ruled accidental.”
The body of 26-year-old Gemmel Moore was found at the same apartment on July 27, 2017. The coroner’s office ruled Moore’s death an accidental methamphetamine overdose, to the dismay of his family, which wanted prosecutors to charge Buck with a crime.
Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon, filed a wrongful death lawsuit last month against both Buck and the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
The lawsuit brought 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.
Buck was present at the location when both deaths occurred, according to the sheriff’s department.
“Investigators are continuing to interview individuals who may have come forward to provide information,” according to the sheriff’s department. “This investigation is ongoing and there is no further information available to release at this time.”
Dmitry Gorin, a defense attorney and former deputy district attorney, told the Los Angeles Times there is a high bar to prove someone is culpable in a death involving drugs and that typically, there needs to be a witness who saw the accused administer or furnish the substance that caused death.
Buck has been a prominent donor to Democratic candidates and office holders. He has been active in LGBTQ political circles and once ran for the West Hollywood City Council.
Community activist Jasmyne Cannick, who worked closely with Moore’s family, has called for Buck’s arrest, prosecution and conviction.
A coalition of 41 LGBTQ and other groups – including the National Black Justice Coalition, National LGBTQ Task Force, and American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California – also called for further action.
Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, has denied that Buck had any involvement in either death.
Amster has said Buck and Moore were good friends, and told The Times that Buck did not witness Moore injecting drugs the night he died.
Moore’s mother LaTisha Nixon earlier said she and her son had been living with her in Texas, but Buck bought him a plane ticket to return to Los Angeles, which he did the day he died. According to The Times, Moore had previously been homeless and worked as an escort.
Nixon has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Buck, and accused the District Attorney’s Office of failing to prosecute him because he is white, thus violating Moore’s civil rights.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)