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For LaTisha Nixon, latest death is more than deja vu

WEST HOLLYWOOD — LaTisha Nixon’s trip to Los Angeles was supposed to be a commemoration of what would have been her son Gemmel Moore’s 28th birthday. Instead, it turned into her worst nightmare all over again. 

Moore was found dead at the home of Ed Buck, a prominent Democratic Party donor, in July 2017. An autopsy concluded that Moore’s death was caused by an overdose of methamphetamine. Due to a lack of evidence, the county district attorney’s office did not press charges against Buck for Moore’s death.

Eighteen months following Moore’s overdose, paramedics responded to another 911 call from Buck’s apartment regarding an unconscious man who was not breathing. Timothy Dean was pronounced dead in the early morning hours of Jan. 7. The cause of death has not been released.

Friends, co-workers and neighbors were shocked and saddened to hear about Dean’s death.

Ottavio Taddei, Dean’s roommate for the past three years, said Dean stayed away from narcotics and was very neat with “everything in a specific spot and nicely folded.”

“I’ve never seen him doing drugs or taking drugs,” Taddei said. “He doesn’t even smoke weed or cigarettes. … If he drank something, it was at the end of the day, after work. Not someone who had a problem.”

At a candlelight vigil in front of Buck’s apartment Jan. 11, Dean’s longtime friend Mark Chambers felt compelled to speak up for his friend.

“I’ve known Tim for 30 years,” Chambers said. “He’s not an angel and he’s not a devil. He is in between, just like everybody else.”

In the past, Dean performed in adult films. An online database of adult films credits Dean with more than a dozen roles. 

“I knew he did it, but when we were coming up, a lot of people did it. It was like, OK, so what?” Chambers said. “Just because he did porn doesn’t equal a drug addict.”

According to Dean’s friends, he had turned his life completely around.  He was a fashion consultant at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, had joined a church and was baptized. He had even gone back to school and earned his associates degree from Santa Monica College.  

Dean also played in the Lambda Basketball League and last summer traveled with Chambers and others to Paris to compete in the Gay Games.

Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, says his client had nothing to do with Dean’s death.  

According to Amster, Buck and Dean been friends for 25 years. Dean had “ingested some type of substance” before arriving at Buck’s apartment Jan. 7 and Buck had tried to perform CPR after Dean fell unconscious.

“This is not a situation where Mr. Buck had caused the death,” the attorney said. “This is a situation where Mr. Buck has had longtime friends who, unfortunately, do not handle their life well then succumb when they are in the apartment of Mr. Buck.”

Dean’s death has put a spotlight on the issues of wealth and privilege — specifically white privilege — that some say exists even within the liberal gay community of West Hollywood.  

Following the vigil in from of Buck’s apartment, West Hollywood resident and queer artist Lex Ryan posted on Instagram:

“White people — and especially those white queer folx who live in West Hollywood and party in West Hollywood — let this be a wake up. West Hollywood is not safe for everyone. It is not the progressive, inclusive place we like to believe it is. It is a place where two black men can die of overdoses in a wealthy white man’s apartment — a man known to pay black men so that he can inject them with meth — while the white man walks free. This is West Hollywood. This is where we celebrate Pride. Pride in what? Pride that only white lgbtq folx are safe? This is unacceptable. We can do better. We need to do better.”

For Latisha Nixon, the death of Timothy Dean conjures up painful similarities to her son’s death.

Moore and Dean died in the apartment of Ed Buck and he had been present at the time of their deaths. Both men were black and gay. Buck, 64, is white, gay, wealthy and politically connected.  

According to the personal testimony of several escorts who say they have had experiences with Buck, he intentionally seeks out gay black men who are financially vulnerable and pays them to do drugs with him, specifically methamphetamine. 

Dean’s death is also the realization of the dire prediction Nixon made in front of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station on the first anniversary of her son’s death, one day after prosecutors declined to file charges against Buck.

“The media always refers to my son as a homeless black gay prostitute,” Nixon said at the time. “He wasn’t homeless. He wasn’t a prostitute.  

“They call Ed Buck a ‘wealthy white Democratic donor.’ He’s a predator. He preys on vulnerable black men. If they don’t stop him, he’ll do it again and the blood will be on their hands.”

By Cynthia Gibson

Contributing Writer