Lead Story West Edition

‘My brother was not ready to die’

WEST HOLLYWOOD — Timothy Michael Dean had planned to spend his 56th birthday in Paris.

Instead of a festive celebration in the city of lights, his friends and family gathered at a small conference room in the West Hollywood Library to pay tribute to a life cut short too soon.

“My brother was not ready to die,” said Dean’s sister Joann Campbell. “He should be here. He should not be lying in a grave.”

In the early morning of Jan. 7, paramedics responded to a 911 call at the West Hollywood apartment of prominent Democratic donor Ed Buck, 64. Dean was found unresponsive and pronounced dead at the scene. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office autopsy report ruled Dean’s death was the result of alcohol toxicity and a methamphetamine overdose.

Dean was not the first gay black man to be found dead in Buck’s apartment. Eighteen months earlier, Gemmel Moore, 26, an openly gay man, also was found dead in Buck’s apartment.  The coroner’s office ruled Moore’s death was also the result of an accidental methamphetamine overdose.

Buck, who is white, has been accused by other black gay men of offering payment in exchange for allowing him to inject them with meth. The men alleged Buck enjoyed watching the effect the drug had on them.   

Charges were not filed against Buck for Moore’s death. Based on the sheriff’s investigation into Moore’s death, the district attorney’s office stated there was “insufficient evidence.”

The autopsy report for both Moore and Dean shared many similarities. The coroner determined that both men had the lethal drug injected into their system.  In both cases, the coroner could not conclude whether or not the lethal dose was self-administered.

The coroners investigating Moore’s death reported finding sex toys, syringes and “clear plastic bags with suspected methamphetamine in a tool box roll-cabinet in the living room.”

Investigators also found 24 syringes with brown residue, five glass pipes with white residue and burn marks, a plastic straw with possible white residue, clear plastic bags with white powdery residue and a clear plastic bag with a “piece of crystal-like substance.”

At the scene of Dean’s death, the coroner’s report noted that Buck’s living room was littered with clothing and sex toys. Investigators collected three sealed glass vials, three syringes and two glass pipes. One of the pipes contained methamphetamine. 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.

The sheriff’s homicide investigation into Dean’s death is ongoing. In light of the second death at Buck’s apartment, sheriff investigators are also taking a second look at the circumstances surrounding Moore’s overdose.

Buck maintains he was not responsible for the deaths of Dean and Moore. His attorney, Seymour Amster, described Moore as a “good friend” of Buck’s and said that Dean and Buck had been friends for 25 years.

Amster said in an interview that Dean had “ingested some type of substance” before arriving at Buck’s apartment and that Buck had tried to resuscitate him before calling the paramedics.

“We stand by our position that unfortunately Mr. Dean ingested drugs at a location other than Mr. Buck’s and he came over intoxicated, and it’s a tragedy,” Amster said. 

Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon filed a wrongful-death lawsuit last month against Buck, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Assistant Head Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum. In the lawsuit, Nixon stated that her son died after being injected with a lethal dose of crystal meth by Buck, who has a “well-documented history of isolating black men for predatory sexual encounters.”

At Dean’s birthday memorial, one by one, friends and family shared memories and reminisced about Dean’s impact on their lives.   

Mark Chambers said Dean was a “man-child.  He took care of business, but he was still child-like.”

Chambers and Dean met in 1991 through Lambda Basketball League, a gay men’s basketball group. Their team traveled to Paris to compete in the gay basketball championship games. 

Chambers said Dean fell in love with the city and was looking forward to returning for his birthday.

According to Chambers, Dean was “old school” and believed in personal interaction. For birthdays and holidays, Dean preferred to call or show up in person.  When it came to showing his friends that he cared, Chambers said that Dean, “wasn’t into that texting stuff.”

Campbell said her brother was a very loving person. 

“If he could not help you, he would not harm you.” She recalled the last conversation she had with him on New Year’s Day.

When she called Dean from her home in Florida to wish him Happy New Year, he reminded her that on West Coast, it was still 2018.

“That’s the kind of person he was. Always joking,” said Campbell.

Dean’s older sister Joyce Jackson vowed to keep fighting for justice for both Moore and her brother.

“We’ve got to fight hard and we’ve got to fight together,” she said. “We cannot continue to let this happen and not do anything about it. If we don’t, it’s going to happen again. Trust me.”