Lead Story West Edition

Two years later, mother still grieves

WEST HOLLYWOOD — LaTisha Nixon stood under a large oak tree in front of the apartment where her son died of a methamphetamine overdose she says was injected by Ed Buck, whom she referred to as a sexual predator. 

At a remembrance on the second anniversary of Gemmel Moore’s death, before a gathering of family, friends and supporters, Nixon reflected on the journey to seek justice for her son.

 “My child is gone,” she said. “I can’t protect him anymore, but I can’t let go. The best thing I can do now is get justice in the best way that I know how to get justice.”

Moore, 26, a gay black man who worked as an escort, was found unresponsive in the apartment of Buck, 64, a white man who is considered a prominent donor to Democratic Party candidates, in the early morning hours of July 27, 2017. 

According to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s report, Moore’s nude body was found in the living room along with 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.”

The coroner’s office ruled Moore death as an accidental overdose of methamphetamine.

Moore left behind a journal chronicling his complicated relationship with Buck. One journal entry implicated that Buck was responsible for introducing Moore to methamphetamine.

“I honestly don’t know what to do. I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that. Ed Buck is the one to thank. He gave me my first injection of crystal meth.” 

In the aftermath of Moore’s death, other young black gay escorts came forward to tell of their drug experiences with Buck. The men alleged Buck enjoyed watching the effect the drug had on them and would offer payment in exchange for allowing him to inject them with meth. 

Family and friends suspected that it was Buck that injected Moore with the fatal dose of meth.

Following an 11-month investigation by the sheriff’s department, County District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office concluded that “admissible evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that [Buck] is responsible for the death of Gemmel Moore.”

Eighteen months later, on the morning of Jan. 7, 2019, a second black gay man was found dead in Ed Buck’s apartment.

At the time of his death, Timothy Dean, 55, worked as a fashion consultant in Century City. The circumstances surrounding his death were similar to Moore’s.

Coroner’s investigators report noted that Buck’s apartment 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 coroner determined that Dean also died of a methamphetamine overdose.  The sheriff’s homicide investigation into Dean’s death is ongoing. 

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.

After the district attorney’s office declined to bring charges against Buck for the death of her son, Nixon filed a civil wrongful-death lawsuit filed last month against Buck, 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.”

The remembrance for Moore was organized by social activist Jasmyne Cannick and the political action group Color of Change. During the event, many called for Lacey’s office and the Sheriff’s Department to do their job and bring charges against Buck for the deaths of Moore and Dean.

Others expressed fears that as long as Buck is free, financially vulnerable gay black men are at risk.

“Justice needs to come his way for the sake of other potential victims,” said Maurice Kitchen, who knew Moore and has spoken at previous vigils and protests calling for Buck’s arrest. “We’re going to do our best to prevent a third victim or even a fourth.”

“We’re not only going to make sure Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean get justice, but we’re going to make sure that other people that didn’t die, but have to live with the trauma that stems from all the things he’s done to them, get the justice they deserve.”

Nixon has lost count of how many times she has flown in from her home in Texas to Los Angeles to bring attention to Moore’s death. She expressed her frustration that Buck has not been criminally charged in the death of her son or Dean.

“I’m angry. Something should have been done by now. We shouldn’t still be here. I can’t stop because I’m worried that there are other young men in danger.”