Metro Weekly

Activists demand investigation after second gay black man dies in Democratic donor’s home

LGBTQ advocates demand "thorough" investigation into deaths and call on politicians to donate money from Ed Buck to charity

Ed Buck – Photo: Facebook.

Progressive activists are demanding Democrats denounce Ed Buck after a gay black man was found inside the prominent fundraiser’s California home. It’s the second such incident in the past 18 months.

Police from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department arrived at Buck’s West Hollywood home around 1:05 a.m. on Monday in response to a report of a person not breathing, reports CBS Los Angeles. Paramedics at the scene conducted CPR on the victim, but were unable to revive him, and pronounced him dead at the scene. 

The Los Angeles County Coroner’s office later identified the victim as 55-year-old Timothy Dean of West Hollywood. The cause of Dean’s death has not yet been determined.

In addition to denouncing Buck, activists are demanding that any political candidates, state parties, or political action committees that received money from him donate an identical amount to organizations that serve LGBTQ youth of color. And they are calling on police to fully investigate Buck and hold him accountable by arresting and prosecuting him for any role he may have played in the two men’s deaths.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department is reviewing a previous investigation into the death of 26-year-old Gemmel Moore, another gay black man found dead in Buck’s apartment in July 2017. Police had previously cleared Buck in the death of Moore, an escort, whom the coroner’s office ruled died as a result of an accidental overdose of crystal meth.

Police reopened the investigation into Moore’s death last year after Moore’s friends and family raised concerns that Buck’s political connections may have influenced the decision not to charge him with crimes related to Moore’s overdose. Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon, posted excerpts from what she says was a journal her son kept to Facebook, in which Moore allegedly claimed that Buck was the one who got him addicted to crystal meth.

“Ed Buck is the one to thank,” the journal entry reads. “He gave me my first injection of chrystal (sic) meth. It was very painful.”

Other young men have claimed that Buck had a habit of injecting black men with drugs during sexual encounters. One, Jermaine Gagnon, recently told the Daily Mail that he previously had sexual encounters with Buck at the donor’s West Hollywood home. He alleges that Buck injected him with crystal meth on several occasions, including one time when he was drugged after drinking some spiked Gatorade.

Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, has declined to comment on Gagnon’s allegations, only questioning why Gagnon didn’t contact the police if he believed he was drugged against his will.

“We see no reason to respond to unverified accusations from individuals just trying to seek attention,” Amster told the Daily Mail.

As for Dean, Amster told NBC News that Buck has not been charged in connection with the death, saying that the deceased was a “longtime friend” of Buck’s who asked to come over. Once there, he “began exhibiting bizarre behavior,” prompting Buck to call 911.

Many LGBTQ advocates are skeptical of Buck’s claims. The Los Angeles LGBT Center called on Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to investigate Dean’s death and “aggressively seek justice.”

“Although the investigation is in its early stages, we urge Sheriff Villanueva to keep the public fully informed as LGBT people have a considerable and urgent interest in a case that is so clearly linked to the health and safety of our community,” their statement reads. “The reports we have heard provide more questions than answers.”

According to OpenSecrets.org, federal election records show that the 63-year-old Buck has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates, state parties, and political action committees since 2008. Politicians whom Buck donated to over the course of that decade include former President Barack Obama, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, U.S. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), former U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), and U.S. Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), Ami Bera (D-Calif.), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), Susie Lee (D-Nev.), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.).

U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) – Credit: U.S. Congress.

The California-based Courage Campaign has called on all of those politicians who received money from Buck to denounce him publicly.

“Not only should Ed Buck be investigated and held accountable for his actions, but all lawmakers and institutions that took his money should call for a full and immediate investigation of Buck, and donate any funding they’ve received from him to racial and LGBTQIA justice organizations immediately,” Eddie Kurtz, executive director of the Courage Campaign, said in a statement. “The days of systematic and unchecked abuse and exploitation of black and brown LGBTQIA communities must end now.”

Already, Ted Lieu has announced he will donate more than $18,000 of money received from Buck to charity. The congressman has promised to donate $5,000 each to Lambda Legal and the NAACP; $3,000 each to GLAAD and The Trevor Project; and $2,500 to the Equality California Institute, according to CNN

The California Legislative LGBT Caucus also issued a statement denouncing Buck and calling on the sheriff’s department and the district attorney’s office to conduct “the most thorough investigation possible” while also being transparent in their decision-making as to whether Buck will face charges. 

“We are deeply disturbed about the death of yet another black man in the home of Ed Buck, apparently of a drug overdose. What happened in Mr. Buck’s home isn’t normal, nor should we ever accept it as normal. Rather, what happened is beyond troubling. It isn’t credible to assert that these deaths are random or a coincidence,” the statement read. 

“The lives of our community members have value. Black LGBT people are particularly at risk for marginalization and victimization,” the caucus concluded. “We all need to step up and give them the support they need. And, we all need to speak out when members of our community are being victimized.”

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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