Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives have opened an investigation into a second death in less than two years at the residence of Democratic Party donor Ed Buck, who has contributed to various California races and causes. Deputies were called to a West Hollywood residence at 1:05 a.m. Monday on a report of a person not breathing, and county firefighters pronounced the man dead, a department statement said.
The man was not identified and the cause of death will be determined by the coroner. "On July 27, 2017 there was a death investigation of a male adult, Gemmel Moore, who was determined to have overdosed at the same location. Mr. Edward Buck was present during both incidents," the statement said.
The department said the new investigation will include a review of the 2017 incident. Community activists protested outside Buck's apartment building Monday night chanting "arrest him now," CBS Los Angeles reports.
At one point, the crowd turned on Buck's neighbors, accusing them of not doing enough to stop the deaths. "I'm not OK with people dying in his house and people coming over here and dying," one neighbor said.
Buck's attorney, Seymour Amster, told the Los Angeles Times after Monday's death that Buck was not arrested and was cooperating with investigators. "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."
In 2017, Amster described Buck and Moore as friends and said his client had nothing to do with that death. An autopsy report said Moore died of a methamphetamine overdose.
He was found naked on a mattress in the living room with drug paraphernalia littered about. The county district attorney's office declined to file charges against Buck.
A charge evaluation worksheet obtained by the Times 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." Buck is a past candidate for the West Hollywood City Council and is well known in LGBTQ political circles.
In response to the latest death, the Los Angeles LGBT Center called for a full investigation. "While much is still to be learned, it appears this tragedy is linked to substance use. LGBT people and other marginalized groups are at elevated risk for impacts that result from the current epidemic uses of opioids, methamphetamine, and other dangerous drugs," the center said.