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.
A Failure to Prosecute
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.
Top photo is of Ed Buck at a recent federal hearing.