Will LA County prosecute Ed Buck?


LaTisha Nixon never thought she would be back to 1234 N. Laurel Avenue.

Her 26-year-old son, Gemmel Moore, died at this West Hollywood apartment building two years ago. An LA County coroner's report determined that Moore died of an accidental drug overdose; the crystal meth that killed him was injected into his body.

The apartment unit where Moore died belongs to Edward Buck, a well-known LGBTQ activist in West Hollywood and Democratic party donor. 

Two years later, no one has been charged in Moore’s death, something that Nixon says she cannot let go. 

“I want them to do their job,” Nixon says, flanked by about two dozen friends, community members, and civil rights activists last weekend. Her voice is quivering as she battles back tears. 

A protester holding a sign: "DA Jackie Lacey: Ed Buck is killing us." Photo by Benjamin Gottlieb. 

“I want them to look at the evidence and prosecute Ed Buck,” Nixon says. She's referring to the attorneys inside the LA County District Attorney’s Office.

They looked at the circumstances surrounding Moore’s death and determined in 2018 that there was insufficient evidence to charge Buck with a crime. 

But the national spotlight began shining on Buck again earlier this year when another man, 55-year-old Timothy Dean, died at his apartment under similar circumstances. He also overdosed on methamphetamines. 

“We just hear the same tired excuse - that they don't have enough,” says Hussain Turk, an attorney representing Moore’s family. “Their policy is not caring about the [black and queer] community, and it's caused the deaths of not one but two… and it could likely cause the death of a third if an arrest isn’t made.”

A protester holding a sign: "DA Jackie Lacey: Prosecute Ed Buck." Photo by Benjamin Gottlieb. 

There is an ongoing investigation into Dean’s death. The LA County Sheriff’s Department delivered evidence to the District Attorney’s Office in early July. Attorneys for the county have since asked for the sheriff’s department to do more investigating, including additional forensic analysis, interviewing more people, and reviewing medical records, says Greg Risling, Public Information Officer at the District Attorney's Office.

But Turk says he believes there already is enough evidence for charges to be filed. He says he recently took a client, whom he did not name to protect his privacy, to the LA County Sheriff’s Department station in West Hollywood, who had a similar experience with Ed Buck.

“He connected with Ed Buck [who] told him that he would hook him up with a hotel for a couple nights and give him some money if he came over to hang out,” Turk says.

“He had an extremely harrowing experience when he came over to Buck's apartment. He was pressured to do drugs that he had never done before, namely crystal meth.” 

Amid the calls for Buck's prosecution, his attorney has maintained his innocence.

“In spite of all of this, these two individuals were his friends” says Seymour Amster, Buck’s attorney. “He does have sorrow for that… but he doesn’t understand why he has become such a target. He would like to live in peace.”

Amster says that he continues to fight the wrongful death lawsuit filed against his client and the County of Los Angeles, among others. 

The next hearing in that case is scheduled for this September.