Mother of first victim speaks out on Buck’s arrest
WEST HOLLYWOOD — A man who could have become the third man to die in the local apartment of a prominent LGBT activist and political donor is being hailed as a hero by the mother of the first person who died of a drug overdose in the apartment on Laurel Avenue here.
That’s what LaTisha Nixon, the mother of Gemmel Moore, called the man who is being referred to as Joe Doe at a press conference Sept. 25 at West Hollywood Park.
“Joe Doe is a hero,” Nixon said. “We could not have done this without him. I’m just so blessed and so grateful that he wasn’t the third victim.
“Ed Buck wasn’t going to stop doing what he was doing. We all knew that. I’m just so grateful [Joe Doe is] still alive.”
Buck, 65, was charged Sept. 19 with a single count of distribution of methamphetamine resulting in the death of Gemmel Moore, who died July 27, 2017, of an overdose in Buck’s apartment in the 1200 block of Laurel Avenue.
Los Angeles County prosecutors had earlier declined to file any state charges against Buck over Moore’s death, citing insufficient evidence.
Moore was the first of two men to die at Buck’s apartment in less than 18 months. He was found dead of a crystal methamphetamine overdose and the coroner ruled the death accidental. On Jan. 7 of this year, a second man died of methamphetamine toxicity at Buck’s home. The death of Timothy Dean, 55, of West Hollywood, was also ruled accidental. County prosecutors said that case remains under review.
Buck was arrested Sept. 17, when he was charged by the District Attorney’s Office stemming from the near-fatal overdose in his apartment that occurred Sept. 11. Buck allegedly injected the man identified only as Joe Doe with “two dangerously large doses” of methamphetamine at Buck’s apartment. He allegedly administered a “dangerously large dose of methamphetamine” to the same man a week earlier, according to a bail memorandum filed by Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Barnes.
Buck allegedly refused to render aid to the man, who eventually fled from the apartment and called 911 from a nearby gas station, according to the document. The 37-year-old man suffered an overdose but survived, authorities said.
Buck was charged in Superior Court with one felony count each of battery causing serious injury, administering methamphetamine and maintaining a drug house. He appeared briefly in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom Sept. 19, but his arraignment was delayed until Oct. 11.
In response to the announcement of Buck’s arrest and the charges against him, Nixon, political and community activist Jasmyne Cannick, one of Nixon’s attorney’s Hussain Turk, and Moore’s friends Cory Mclean and Jerome Kitchen discussed their reaction to the arrest.
Turk took issue with Lacey’s account that Joe Doe provided the information needed to arrest Buck.
“There were numerous other Joe Does,” Turk said. “In over two years, our team worked together to bring seven or eight Joe Does to the county. The county interviewed them.
“During these interviews, they each told their stories about how they were forcibly injected with crystal methamphetamine in lethal doses, sometimes while they were passed out and not even conscious.” Turk said.
“But because they were black gay men, the county didn’t care to listen to their stories. The fact that it took two years is [ridiculous].”
He said that it took the involvement of the Drug Enforcement Administration to force the district attorney’s office to act.
”The fact that the county’s charges only reflect criminal acts against one Joe Doe, the most recent, where the federal charges reflect criminal conduct against all of our witnesses, shows that the county failed in its investigation,” Turk added.
After Moore’s death, Nixon and Cannick were frustrated with the pace of the county’s investigation and began their own. They located several other gay black escorts who corroborated Moore’s experiences with Buck.
The men alleged Buck would pay to inject them with higher and higher doses of meth. They said Buck enjoyed watching the effect the drug had on them.
Nixon and Cannick along with attorneys Turk and Nana Gyamfi, presented Moore’s personal journal outlining his experiences with Buck to the authorities and provided names of these witness to the district attorney’s office and Sheriff Department investigators.
Cannick also expressed disappointment with local law enforcement and the district attorney’s office.
“A number of our Joe Does went to the sheriff’s station and were turned away,” she said. “It started with Gemmel when he went to the sheriff’s station and reported Ed Buck and was told to leave and numerous other Joe Does were not taken seriously.
“If Jackie Lacey felt like our victims and witnesses were second-class people and it’s hearsay, why is it good enough for the feds?”
The county district attorney’s office released a statement in response to claims that the office did not take proper response in the Moore case.
“A decision as to whether we have sufficient admissible evidence to bring charges depends on a variety of factors, including witness credibility,” the statement said. “The ability to corroborate witness statements, as well as the length of time between the events described and when they are reported to law enforcement, also are among the factors considered.”
The investigation into the death of Timothy Dean continues. Dean, 55, was found dead in Buck’s apartment on Jan. 7.
According to the county coroner’s office, the cause of death was also a meth overdose. The coroner’s report noted that Buck’s living room was littered with clothing, sex toys and several vials. One of the vials was labeled “naloxone,” the medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The report also noted two pieces of thick, clear plastic tubing was found near Dean’s body.
Lacey maintains that under state law, there is insufficient admissible evidence to hold Buck responsible for the deaths of Moore and Dean. The coalition of federal and local law enforcement agencies working on the case concluded that there were more options under federal law that could carry a lengthier prison sentence.
U.S. Attorney Nicola Hanna announced that the federal case will charge Buck with distributing methamphetamine that directly resulted in the overdose death of Moore. Hanna said the criminal complaint alleging Buck caused Moore’s death is supported by a 21-page affidavit that outlines a disturbing pattern of Buck soliciting other men for sex in exchange for drugs and money.
Investigators on the case located 10 additional victims, nine of whom said Buck administered drugs to them or strongly encouraged them to ingest narcotics as part of agreements to be compensated for sexual services.
Buck was transferred to federal custody to face charges that carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a maximum of life in prison without parole.
Nixon said she was relieved that Buck was finally in custody and could not pose a threat to gay black men.
By Cynthia Gibson