‘If it didn’t hurt so bad I’d kill myself but I’ll let Ed Buck do it for now….’
(Richard Winton and Hailey Branson-Potts, Los Angeles Times) A man’s body was found early Monday in the West Hollywood home of prominent Democratic donor Ed Buck, whose attorney confirmed the death.
The man died in Buck’s Laurel Avenue apartment between midnight and 2 a.m., Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, said. His name has not been released.
“From what I know, it was an old friend who died of an accidental overdose, and, unfortunately, we believe that the substance was ingested at some place other than the apartment,” Amster said. “The person came over intoxicated.”
Amster said Buck was not arrested and is cooperating with investigators.
“He’s shaken up,” Amster said of his client. “All indications are he had nothing to do with this tragedy.”
But according to Fox News, protesters showed up outside Buck’s home Monday night, calling for his arrest.
“Arrest Ed Buck, prosecute Ed Buck, and then a jury needs to convict Ed Buck,” activist Jasmyne Cannick said to the crowd gathering outside the California apartment Monday night. “This man has had two dead bodies in his house, and he is still in his house.”
Nicole Nishida, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, confirmed that homicide detectives were at Buck’s apartment complex Monday morning investigating a suspicious death, but she did not immediately confirm the apartment number.
A law enforcement source described the dead man as young and “not white.”
According to Fox News, Buck has given more than $500,000 to Democrat groups and candidates — including former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Through June, Buck gave $23,600 to various California races and causes, including $7,600 to former state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, according to campaign finance records. He also donated to candidates running for election to the West Hollywood City Council, Los Angeles Unified School District board and state Senate, and he served on the Stonewall Democratic Club Steering Committee.
Buck previously was investigated for the death of another young man of color in his apartment — the 2017 overdose of Gemmel Moore, 26.
Moore died of a methamphetamine overdose in Buck’s apartment in July 2017, according to a Los Angeles County coroner’s report. Paramedics found him naked on a mattress in the living room, which was littered with drug paraphernalia, the report said.
Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon of Texas, and his friends questioned whether Buck’s ties to elected officials and differences in race and class influenced the investigation and whether the drugs that killed him were self-administered.
Buck, who is 64 and white, was a longtime political donor, a onetime West Hollywood City Council candidate and a well-known figure in LGBTQ political circles. Moore, who was black, had been homeless and had worked as an escort.
The coroner ruled Moore’s death an accident, and an initial review by sheriff’s deputies found nothing suspicious. But the following month, homicide detectives launched a new investigation.
Prosecutors this summer declined to file charges against Buck, citing insufficient evidence, according to court records. In a charge evaluation worksheet dated July 26, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said that 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.”
The document also cited an inadmissible search and seizure but did not provide details.
The district attorney’s office reviewed and rejected four charges: murder, voluntary manslaughter, and furnishing and possessing drugs.
Moore had flown from Houston to Los Angeles the day he died, according to coroner’s investigators. His mother said Buck bought his airplane ticket.
The Los Angeles Times reviewed pages of a journal that authorities said was found among Moore’s possessions. In it, Moore purportedly wrote in 2016 about using crystal methamphetamine.
“I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that,” Moore purportedly wrote. “Ed Buck is the one to thank, he gave me my first injection of chrystal (sic) meth.”
The entry continues: “I just hope the end result isn’t death … . If it didn’t hurt so bad I’d kill myself but I’ll let Ed Buck do it for now.”
According to the coroner’s report, an investigator found the following items in Buck’s two-bedroom apartment: 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.”
©2019 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. Liberty Headlines editor Paul Chesser contributed.