Columnists Opinion

District Attorney Lacey failed the victims of Ed Buck

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s failure to charge Ed Buck for the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean was not because of a lack of evidence or probable cause. Her failure was a direct result of a lack of interest and political will.

All of which was the reason that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sought outside help from their federal counterparts to finally bring Buck to justice. 

Make no mistake. It is an election year and D.A. Lacey is extremely embarrassed and rightfully so after having one of the biggest cases in her jurisdiction publicly snatched from her by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

She is trying her best to rewrite history, but not on our watch. 

Long before Sept. 11, when another man almost died of an overdose at the hands of Ed Buck, there was plenty of evidence that Buck caused Gemmel Moore’s death. The evidence at the scene alone demonstrated that Buck was lying about what happened and that Moore’s death was the result of foul play.

After Moore’s death, we secured limited immunity from the district attorney’s office for the victims of Ed Buck to speak to the sheriff’s department about what they knew. It was not offered. It was something we fought for.

There were numerous statements, text messages, photos and videos provided to the sheriff’s department by these victims. If that wasn’t enough, there would eventually be the dead body of Timothy Dean in the same apartment under the same circumstances. All of which would normally be more than what was needed for Lacey to file murder charges.  

And while Lacey lied about the validity of the victims we brought to the sheriff’s department over the course of this investigation, saying that they were second-hand witnesses with hearsay testimony, it was those same witnesses that the federal government used to secure an indictment against Buck in the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean and three additional counts of methamphetamine distribution.

We know that up until as recently as this summer, Lacey claimed to not even know anything about the additional victims or that Ed Buck was still engaged in the same predatory behavior that took the lives of Moore and Dean.

We also know that since Buck has been charged by the feds, her office is only now trying to scramble and backtrack and speak to our victims in what we can only describe as some too little too late attempt to build the case that should have been brought in 2017 after Moore’s death and before Dean died.

Let us not forget that when Ed Buck was finally arrested and charged by Lacey on Sept. 17, it wasn’t for the deaths of Moore and Dean.

No. It was for maintaining a drug house, battery causing serious injury and administering methamphetamine. Charges that if convicted would have at most amounted to five years in state prison, which in California could easily be five months.

Then there’s Lacey’s excuse that the evidence against Buck did not provide probable cause to file murder charges due to a lack of evidence that Buck had an intent to kill.

The reality is that she could have filed first-degree or second-degree murder charges against Buck.  

Felony murder is a first-degree murder charge requiring evidence that a person committed a felony or was in the commission of committing a felony that resulted in someone’s death, and the death of that person was a reasonably foreseeable result of the commission of the felony. 

As described in the federal complaint, there is probable cause based on evidence provided to the sheriff’s department that Buck provided or injected Moore and Dean with methamphetamine, a felony. As a result of Buck’s commission of that felony, Moore and Dean died from methamphetamine overdose. Death by methamphetamine overdose is a reasonably foreseeable result of Buck providing or injecting them with methamphetamine. Therefore, Lacey should have charged Buck with two counts of felony murder. 

Alternatively, Lacey could have charged Buck with murder in the second-degree since Buck’s conduct of injecting Moore and Dean with methamphetamine was in reckless disregard for their lives. The evidence that the sheriff’s department collected clearly shows that Buck often injects his victims with methamphetamine without their consent.

The evidence also shows that even when his victims agreed to be injected, Buck shot them up with deadly doses that far exceeded what his victims consented to. Buck’s actions demonstrated an intent to kill, but they also at very least provided probable cause of depraved heart second-degree murder.

The law requires the district attorney to investigate these crimes. Jackie Lacey had a duty under the law to look at the evidence and to read the reports, including witness statements, obtained by the sheriff’s department. She says she didn’t do that and that is an admission that she has been derelict in her duties as a district attorney.

Her dereliction of duty, however, does not absolve her of the responsibility of prosecuting Ed Buck for all the charges of murder that are clearly supported by the evidence against him.

The simple truth is, Jackie Lacey failed the victims of Ed Buck and the residents of Los Angeles County when she failed to muster the political will to prosecute him for the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean. Lucky for her, we don’t plan on making that same mistake on Election Day.

Jasmyne A. Cannick and attorney Nana Gyamfi have been working together to bring justice to the families of Gemmel Moore, Timothy Dean and all of Ed Buck’s victims. Follow their work with Justice 4 Gemmel and All Ed Buck’s victims at