LaTisha Nixon is a mother on a mission for her son.
Nixon’s son, Gemmel Moore, 26, was found dead from an apparent overdose of methamphetamine at on July 27 at the West Hollywood apartment of Ed Buck, a prominent Democratic political donor. The initial investigation by responding deputies revealed no suspicious circumstances of foul play. That was verified by the responding Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Corner investigator.
“I’m asking for justice for my son,” said Nixon at a recent West Hollywood City Council meeting. “Regardless of the fact of whatever he did the meth or whatever, he was still my son. He was still a person.
“I want justice. That’s it.”
According to Nixon, at the time of his death, Moore was homeless and working as an escort for gay men. Since the announcement of Moore’s death, additional information has surfaced, including Moore’s journal stating it was Buck who introduced him to methamphetamine, a highly addictive drug.
“I honestly don’t know what to do. I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that,” Moore wrote in his journal. “Ed Buck is the one to thank, he gave me my first injection of crystal meth. It was very painful, but after all the troubles, I became addicted to the pain and fetish/fantasy.”
Upon hearing the news of Moore’s death at Buck’s home, Nixon said that other gay black men have come forward and said Buck instructed them to ingest dangerous amounts of drugs while at his home.
“Ed Buck has been soliciting young gay black men,” Nixon said. “He hits them up with meth. The more meth that they smoke and inject, the more money that he gives them.”
Social and political activist Jasmyne Cannick is working with Nixon to uncover the facts of her son’s death.
“We’ve heard the account of some of the other victims, who said that they came up to the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station and tried to file police reports on Ed Buck, but were basically told ‘you’re tweeking, get out of the station,’” Cannick said.
Cannick has also interviewed black gay escorts that allege Buck injected them with meth while they were unconscious. Several of these men said they tried to file complaints against Buck to the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, but were not taken seriously.
Many in the black and LGBT community suspect that Moore, being a black gay sex worker, and Buck being a prominent white political donor, factored into the investigation of Moore’s death.
“Buck is white and so the cause of death was immediately explained away and classified as an accidental meth overdose by the Los Angeles County Coroner,” Cannick wrote in a recent blog.
The discovery of new information and media attention garnered by the case has prompted the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau to further investigate the circumstances surrounding Moore’s overdose.
Sherriff’s Capt. Chris Bergner said the new probe was being launched “out of an abundance of caution.”
Buck’s attorney Seymour Amster contends that while his client was in the apartment when Moore died, he had absolutely nothing to do with his overdose.
“It is unfortunate that the Sheriff’s Department is reacting to unsubstantiated allegations,” Amster told reporters. “This is a tragedy, not a crime. He had no involvement in Gemmel Moore’s death. Unfortunately, he opened his home to an individual who was troubled.”
Nixon urged that witnesses be given immunity for their testimony to aid the sheriff’s investigation. She said at the West Hollywood City Council meeting that many of the male escorts allegedly victimized by Buck fear their testimony might lead to arrest by law enforcement.
“We have a lot of victims that have come forward,” she said. “We have more information. But we need immunity for these people because some of the charges by them testifying they could be felonies.”
West Hollywood City Councilwoman Lindsey Horvath, who, according to Weho Times, is the only council member who has not received campaign donations from Buck, supported Nixon’s stance that victims should be able to give evidence without fear of arrest.
“All victims of crime need to be heard,” Horvath said. “I ask that both the Sheriff’s Department and the L.A. County’s District Attorney’s office take the necessary steps to make it possible for anyone with information pertinent to this case to safely come forward. I want all facts surrounding this case to be known.”
West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station Capt. Serio Aloma emphasized the need for victims to come forward in an effort to fully investigate circumstances surrounding Moore’s overdose.
“Our homicide bureau is investigating this case thoroughly, however they can’t move forward without witnesses coming forward and giving them information.”
Nixon vows to keep the pressure on to uncover the incidents that led to her son’s death.
“I will not stop,” she told reporters. “I will not go away. I want justice for my son.”