Columns, Op-Eds, & Interviews District Attorney

Op-Ed: L.A. District Attorney Jackie Lacey Failed the Victims of Ed Buck

WLA Guest
Written by WLA Guest
Editor’s note:

 On Thursday, federal prosecutors arraigned wealthy Democratic political donor, Ed Buck, on charges of distributing narcotics that, on two occasions, led to the overdose deaths of two different men, first Gemmel Moore, in July of 2017, and then Timothy Dean in January of this year.

According to the federal indictment, filed on Oct. 2, Buck — who pleaded not guilty to the charges — engaged in a pattern of soliciting men to consume drugs and then engage in a variety of sexual acts at his apartment. In some cases Buck injected the men with drugs, including methamphetamine, intravenously, often targeting vulnerable men for these activities, men who were “destitute and/or homeless,and/or struggled with drug addiction,” in order to “exploit the relative wealth and power imbalance between them,” according to the indictment. In certain instances, the feds wrote, Buck would inject the men with more of the drugs than they’d agreed to. At other times, he injected them while they were unconscious.
“On at least two occasions” the indictment stated, “Buck distributed lethal doses of methamphetamine to his victims, resulting in their deaths.”
 
In the essay below, social critic and political commentator, Jasmyne Cannick, and civil rights attorney, Nana Gyamfi, who have together been working with the families of Buck’s victims, ask a series of discomforting questions about why it took the U.S. Attorney to finally get charges brought against Ed Buck, while the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office seemed to be asleep at the wheel when it came to the case of Ed Buck, with tragic consequences.

A Failure to Prosecute

by

Jasmyne A. Cannick and Nana Gyamfi, Esq.

Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s failure to charge Ed Buck for the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean was not because of a lack of evidence or probable cause. Her failure was a direct result of a lack of interest and political will — all of which was the reason that the LA County Sheriff’s Department sought outside help from their federal counterparts to finally bring Buck to justice.

Make no mistake. It is an election year and DA Lacey is extremely embarrassed and rightfully so after having one of the biggest cases in her jurisdiction publicly snatched from her by the U.S. Attorney and the DEA.

She is trying her best to rewrite history–but not on our watch.

Long before Sept. 11 – when one more man almost died of an overdose at the hands of Ed Buck, finally resulting in Buck’s arrest a week later – there was plenty of evidence that political donor Buck caused Gemmel Moore’s death. For those who have examined the details of the case, the evidence at the scene in 2017 alone demonstrated that Buck was lying about what happened and that Gemmel’s death was the result of foul play, the kind of foul play that usually results in murder charges–unless you are a wealthy white man with political connections.

And we cannot ignore the fact that this is the same district attorney who took a political donation from Ed Buck on Feb. 14, 2018, nearly seven months after the death of Gemmel Moore, right in the middle of the LASD’s homicide investigation that directly involved the donor.

Yes, it was only $100 donation to Lacey. Buck’s donation to the campaigns of certain other recognizable names was much larger. But the others would not soon be faced with the decision about whether or not to charge Ed Buck with a serious felony.

After Gemmel’s death, we secured limited immunity from the district attorney’s office for other victims of Ed Buck to speak to the sheriff’s department about what they knew. To be clear, immunity was not offered. It was something we fought for.

There were numerous statements, text messages, photos, and videos provided to the sheriff’s department by these victims. If that wasn’t enough, there would eventually be the dead body of Timothy Dean, lying in the same apartment under the same circumstances, all of which would normally be more than what was needed for Lacey to file murder charges — on anyone of color.

And while Lacey lied about the validity of the victims we brought to the sheriff’s department over the course of this investigation, saying that they were secondhand witnesses with hearsay testimony – it was those same witnesses that the federal government used to secure an indictment from a federal grand jury against Buck in the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean, along with three additional counts of methamphetamine distribution, as a quick reading of the indictment makes clear.

“We spoke with every single person and made a very valiant attempt to speak with every single person who said they had witnessed something,” said Lacey at a Sept. 19, press conference with the federal prosecutors. “And oftentimes those people had heard things but they weren’t actually a witness to it.”

In the words of television’s Maury Povich – that was a lie.

We know that up until as recently as this summer, Lacey claimed to not even know anything about Ed Buck’s additional victims or that Buck was still engaged in the same predatory behavior that took the lives of Gemmel and Timothy.

We also know that since Buck has been charged by the feds, Lacey’s office is now trying to scramble and backtrack and speak to our victims in what we can only describe as a lame-ass attempt to build the case that should have been filed in 2017, after Gemmel Moore’s death, and before Timothy Dean died.

One distraught victim, who didn’t die after his experience with Ed Buck, emailed us last week to express his disappointment over the district attorney’s office telling him that it was too late for him to press charges against Buck, although he had come forward some time ago, but the DA hadn’t bothered to look at his file or examine any of his evidence, which they now belatedly acknowledge.

“She tells me that she hasn’t looked at my file,” he wrote. “If you haven’t looked at my file why did you allow the time limit to pass. Secondly, she never cared to ask for any evidence from anyone. Nor did anyone turn in any evidence to them. I felt what he [Buck] did to me was just brushed to the side…. So I risked my life and my evidence wasn’t looked at and when the prosecutor gets around to it theyll [sic] throw me a bone. Doing this is extremely hard especially when Im [sic] experiencing severe depression.”

Let us not forget that when Ed Buck was finally arrested and charged by Lacey on Sept. 17–it wasn’t for the deaths of Gemmel Moore, Timothy Dean, or the other victims who had stepped forward to tell of their encounters with the white man in West Hollywood whom they described in frightening detail as a violent, dangerous sexual predator, who had a Tuskegee Experiment-like fetish that included shooting crystal meth into conscious or unconscious young Black men whom he picked up off the street or found via dating hookup websites.

No. Buck was charged for maintaining a drug house. He was also charged with battery, causing serious injury and administering methamphetamine, charges that would have likely, at most, amounted to five years in state prison.

Then there’s Jackie Lacey’s excuse that the evidence against Ed Buck did not provide probable cause to file murder charges due to a lack of evidence that Buck had an intent to kill.

The reality is that she could have filed murder charges against Buck after the death of Gemmel Moore.

Felony murder is a charge requiring evidence that a person committed a felony or was in the process of committing a felony that resulted in someone’s death, and the death of that person was a reasonably foreseeable result of the commission of the felony­.

As described in the federal complaint, there is probable cause based on detailed evidence documented by investigators from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department that Buck provided/injected Gemmel and Timothy with methamphetamine–a felony. As a result of Buck’s commission of that felony, Gemmel and, two years later, Timothy died from methamphetamine overdose. Death by methamphetamine overdose is a reasonably foreseeable possible result of Buck providing/injecting them with high doses of methamphetamine, which was part of Buck’s pattern of injecting his “party and play” victims with meth, sometimes with their knowledge, sometimes without. Therefore, Lacey arguably should have charged Buck with two counts of felony murder–which is murder in the first-degree.

Alternatively, Lacey could have charged Buck with murder in the second-degree since Buck’s conduct of injecting Gemmel and Timothy with methamphetamine was done with reckless disregard for their lives. The evidence that the sheriff’s homicide investigators collected, which is detailed in the DEA’s lengthy criminal complaint, strongly suggests that Buck often injected his victims with methamphetamine without their consent. The complaint also suggests that even when his victims agreed to be injected, Buck recklessly shot them up with potentially deadly doses that far exceeded that to which his victims had given consent. In other words, Buck’s actions, at very least, provided enough probable cause to charge him with what is known as “ “depraved heart murder,” which is a killing caused by a reckless disregard for human life.

Lacey believes that she can escape accountability by declaring that she didn’t know about evidence, statements, and reports from the sheriff’s department. She does not get a pass. It was her job to know. And, because of her inactions, Timothy Dean died and multiple other young Black gay men continued to be victimized.

Jackie Lacey had a duty under the law to look at the evidence and to read the reports, including witness statements obtained by the sheriffs. She has admitted she failed to do that work. Her dereliction of duty, however, does not absolve her of the responsibility of prosecuting Ed Buck for the charges that a federal grand jury found were clearly supported by the evidence against him.

Putting out newsletters and statements containing even more falsities about her office’s role in Ed Buck’s arrest is simply an effort by Jackie Lacey to do damage control during an election year where her tenure as the district attorney in the County of Los Angeles is assuredly at risk.

The simple truth is, Jackie Lacey failed the victims of Ed Buck and the residents of Los Angeles County when she failed to muster the political will to prosecute him for the deaths of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean. As it happens, LA County voters will have a chance to reassess their own decisions on Election Day.


Jasmyne A. Cannick and attorney Nana Gyamfi have been working together to bring justice to the families of Gemmel Moore, Timothy Dean, and all of Ed Buck’s victims. Follow their work at www.Justice4Gemmel.org

Jasmyne Cannick

Nana Gyamfi


Top photo is of Ed Buck at a recent federal hearing.

17 Comments

  • This will be Jackie Lacey’s last term in office. She has failed the citizens of Los Angeles County, and we need CHANGE. Mr. George Gascon will prevail and will win the election overwhelmingly.

    You heard it here first.

    • The real reason George Gascon is coming down here from Up There (San Francisco) is to run for Los Angeles County Sheriff when THAT election comes up.

      Don’t forget: George Gascon was San Francisco Chief of Police & an LAPD Chief before becoming D.A. Up There.

      Lots of executive police experience there.

      You heard it HERE first.

      • Before you get all giddy with the thought, you may want to pump the brakes and see what ALADS and PPOA think about the far left Gascon. Didn’t McBuckles have oodles of executive police experience? How did that work out for the LASD? I’ll put my money on the blue collar guy who’s in office right now, thank God.

          • ALADS not PPOA put in the 1.5 million for the to boost the current “Left/Liberal” Sheriff Villanueva into office.
            Funny how that never enters the conversation.

      • George would make an excellent Sheriff! But, he is not coming down for that position. He will be running for Los Angeles County D.A. Lacey has failed us from various criminal justice fronts, which will be exposed in the near future.

        Until then, let’s look forward to the new era!

          • Yeah sure. Sheila Kuehl’s attempts to derail Dem party support for AV failed. Her attempts to get labor support for her coup attempts failed, just as her recall efforts fell flat.

            CHIRLA is solidly in AV’s corner, another failed Kuehl/ Hahn plot. The BOS lawyers lost another round in court and Diana Teran now will face a deposition she doesn’t want to be in, I wonder why? Last I heard she’s now claiming stress and can’t be deposed, you can’t make this stuff up.

            Recruitment is up, hiring is up, morale is way up, crime is down, Ed Buck’s in jail, jail violence is way down, and the BOS just got busted playing dirty with the budget. That would be the public safety budget that voters care about.

            Mr Cognistator, I think it will take more than your hatred and wishful thinking to unseat AV. He’s the real deal and you just can’t handle that.

  • Lacy will win and win easily regardless who is her opponent. She has done a fantastic job and knows the law, which Gascon is just a hand puppet for the SF-BOS. What a horrible political hit job as the election nears.

    If Gascon runs for sheriff he’ll lose and lose huge. You read it hear first! But, we will all to wait. Gascon has lots of skeletons when he left LAPD which I’ll wait to highlight.

    How strange that Lacy ( a minority woman) is getting attacked by Gascon (a male white) with no response by and of the usual PC mobs? For decades we finally have a capable woman of color, as DA, and she gets attacked by people who don’t know the law?

  • UM, how racist. Do you think people of color should vote for Lacey, or is it Lazy, just because she is black. I know you and you ilk like her for the same reason that people of color, especially younger folks, hate her – she never met a cop who did any wrong and there is no reform in her “justice reform.” She is down right Lazy. I would rather see Gascon down here any day, over the do nothing lazy Lacey. It is insulting and racist to think that people of color should vote Lazy over Gascon merely because she is black and he white. I will take a white John Brown over a black Clarence Thomas any day.

    • A lot of people are probably confused by the race- religion of “woke” types like cf. Cf doesn’t really care about treating minority individuals with respect (e.g. Ms. Lacey) what cf is concerned with is the idea of racism, anti racism as a sort of religion. To cf, just because someone is a member of an oppressed group it doesn’t give them the right to step out of line and commit heresy.

      This is how our anti-racist social justice warrior winds up attacking the woman of color, while promoting a “run of the mill” white guy San Francisco politician.

      • CF is the worst kinda of condescending racist, the “liberal elitist” who thinks because they send a few dollars to Save the Children, watched ROOTS, empathize with Colin Kapernick, read a few books and took a few “ethnic studies courses” know what’s best for minorities. It probably even has one or two “brothers or sisters” (in keeping with IT’s attempt to identify) or “Mexicans” (since all people who speak Spanish are from there) as co-workers while claiming to be doing their part to fight social in-justice. All the while being just as prejudiced, biased and hate filled as any other run of the mill racist out there. Such a disgusting and pitiful pill of .

      • An abbreviated definition of “Racism”:

        “…Antagonism directed against a…people on the basis of a…particular racial or ethnic group.”

        Definition from the New Oxford American Dictionary; this the dictionary found in most computers.

        Ellipses indicate definition abbreviations.

        UPSHOT: Racism is a thought, and I personally don’t see how one can be against racism the thought without being for some kind of thought-control, which is worse….

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