Lead Story Uncategorized West Edition

Lawsuit filed in West Hollywood drug deaths

LOS ANGELES — The mother of a man who died at the West Hollywood home of Ed Buck in 2017 filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the prominent Democratic donor Feb. 26, while also accusing the District Attorney’s Office of failing to prosecute Buck because he is white.

The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges wrongful death, sexual battery, hate violence, drug-dealer liability and negligence against Buck, while accusing the District Attorney’s Office of violating the civil rights of Gemmel Moore, who was found dead in Buck’s apartment on July 27, 2017.

The coroner’s office ruled the death of Moore, 26, an accidental methamphetamine overdose.

Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, could not be reached for comment, but he told NBC4, “We’ll fight the allegations vigorously. We haven’t seen the lawsuit, but we’ve done our investigation and there’s more to the story than is being told. If necessary, we’ll tell the full story in a court of law.”

Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon, filed her lawsuit on the same day a group of activists delivered thousands of petition signatures to the District Attorney’s Office calling for Buck to be prosecuted not only for Moore’s death, but for the apparent overdose death of another black man, 55-year-old Timothy Dean, at Buck’s apartment on Jan. 7.

“Our hope is that this lawsuit will bring some modicum of justice for Gemmel and all of Ed Buck’s victims,” Nixon’s attorney, Nana Gyamfi, said in a statement. “Gemmel cries out to us in his journals and his words to family and friends to hold Ed Buck accountable for his torture and death at Ed Buck’s hands.”

Buck has been a prominent donor to Democratic candidates and office holders. He has been active in LGBT political circles and also once ran for a seat on the West Hollywood City Council.

In its civil-rights allegations against the District Attorney’s Office, the lawsuit contends the office permits “policies or customs” of declining to prosecute white men for crimes against black men. The lawsuit claims Buck was not prosecuted for Moore’s death “because he is white, and because Mr. Moore was black.”

“The filing of a civil lawsuit against Ed Buck is an important step forward on the path towards justice for Gemmel Moore,” said Hussain Turk, social justice lawyer and co-counsel for Nixon.  “Until now, Ed Buck has avoided prosecution by the very same elected officials and law enforcement agents whose pockets he’s been lining with hundreds of thousands of dollars in election campaign and legal defense fund contributions since 2007.  

“That is why this lawsuit also names the County of Los Angeles, District Attorney Jackie Lacey, and Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum as defendants alongside Ed Buck. Their refusal to criminally prosecute Ed Buck because he is white is an unjust and unequal application of the law that violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  

“If the dead body of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed white man was found in the home of an older black man, he’d be lucky to even make it to the police station alive,” Turk added. “But on D.A. Lacey’s and Hum’s watch, Ed Buck hasn’t even been formally questioned for his involvement in the deaths of not one, but two black men.”

District Attorney’s Office officials could not be reached late Feb. 26 for comment. When the office declined last year to prosecute Buck, prosecutors noted in a charge-evaluation worksheet the evidence is “insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that [Buck] is responsible for the death of Gemmel Moore. Likewise, the admissible evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that suspect Buck furnished drugs to Gemmel Moore or that suspect Buck possessed drugs.”

Calls for Buck’s arrest soared following Dean’s death at Buck’s apartment in January. Responding to those calls, the District Attorney’s Office released a statement saying it “has been in communication with detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Due to the pending investigation, we decline further comment at this time.”

Dean’s death remains under investigation.