The deaths of Timothy Dean and Gemmel Moore incite calls for justice within community.
By Jorge Paniagua
When one of Timothy Dean’s closest friends, Jeffrey Drew, heard the news in early January that a second gay black man was found dead in the apartment of prominent Democratic donor Ed Buck as a result of a drug overdose, he immediately forwarded the news article to Dean’s phone.
“I had woken up Monday morning and I saw an article and I was like oh my God, it’s happened again,” Drew said. “So I forwarded [the story] to Timothy and I never heard back from him. I thought, ‘oh maybe he’s up hiking, by himself, then went to work.’ But then when I didn’t hear from him, and the news kept saying another man died at Ed Buck’s house, I didn’t put it together until halfway through the day — that Monday. [I thought], oh my God, what if Timothy went over there?’”
The acting commander of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s West Hollywood substation said during the City of West Hollywood’s Council meeting last night that the LASD Robbery-Homicide detectives were still actively seeking statements and witnesses in the separate death investigations of Gemmel Moore, 26 and Dean, 55.
LASD Lt. William Moulder said that Dean’s cause of death has not yet been released to the public, and that LASD officials have put a security hold on Dean’s autopsy, pending toxicology results.
Dean, 55, was found dead in Buck’s West Hollywood apartment sometime between midnight and 2 a.m. on Jan. 7. This is the second gay black man found dead in Buck’s apartment within a timespan of 17 months. The case involving the first man, Gemmel Moore, 26, happened in July 2017. Buck was recently hit with a wrongful death lawsuit from Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon, according to The New York Times.
Drew was aware that Dean and Buck had known each other for years. Which is why, following Gemmel Moore’s death, Drew would regularly forward articles involving the case to Dean.
“All I knew [about Ed Buck] was what Timothy told me – which was that [Buck] was into underwear, and getting people really high,” Drew said. “In Buck’s apartment, there’s usually a mattress in the living room that the boys on the street – all of them knew – that if they needed a place to crash or to go get high, they could go to Ed’s.”
Although the case involving Buck has received ample media coverage, Drew said that he is convinced that media outlets have not accurately represented who his close friend, Dean, was as an actual person.
“I believe, and this is my opinion, that because it is two African-American boys, Timothy had done porn back in the day, and Gemmel was an escort, I think they vilified the two guys in the press,” Drew said. “It wasn’t about this man [Buck] — [the press wasn’t focusing on the fact that] oh, there’s something going on here, people are dying in someone’s apartment. It was about the salaciousness of Timothy and Gemmel’s lives.”
However, Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, argues that his client’s critics have unfairly used race to blame Buck for the deaths of Dean and Moore.
“Some people still want us to have a race war,” Amster said in a Los Angeles Times article. “Some people want to look at things as black, white or brown. It’s not. If we want to move forward and get away from identifying individuals by race, we must take race out of the conversation.”
In a statement written by Dean’s family, posted on the Justice4Gemmel website on Feb. 27, they wrote: “Our brother’s life was cut short by a predatory man that preys on only Black gay men. But make no mistake Ed Buck–none of this will be swept under the rug by no means. Justice will be served for Timothy Dean aka Timroy Williams.”
Impulse Los Angeles, an organization which promotes a healthy sexual lifestyle, recently organized a rally in response to the deaths of Dean and Moore. The protest, which took place on Feb. 23 outside of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department West Hollywood Station, aimed to highlight the gravity, as well as demand justice, regarding the case.
The small-scale protest was comprised of nearly 20 activists wearing orange jumpsuits and holding up signs meant to relay a clear message to law enforcement officials: continue investigating the deaths of Dean and Moore.
“It was our way of saying this guys needs to go to jail,” Director of College Outreach for Impulse Los Angeles, Jordan Jones, said. “This guy needs to be tried by a jury. We can’t just drop the investigation. So, we’re kind of demanding action.”
However, the activists’ clamor for further investigation fell on deaf ears.
“We were pretty ignored,” Jones said. “A few sheriffs cars showed up just to kind of monitor us to make sure nothing got out of hand but no one approached us, no one spoke to us, no representative from the sheriff – just a lot of media showed up.”
Impulse Los Angeles is planning a second demonstration – one on a much larger scale – if the case involving Ed Buck goes cold, according to Jones. It would involve two separate groups of activists simultaneously protesting on the same day – one group protesting outside of the Sheriff’s Department West Hollywood Station while another protests outside of Ed Buck’s home.
“I think he needs to be investigated and put away,” Drew said. “He’s contributed to the deaths of these men. We all have a responsibility, if we want to go and do crystal meth or any other drug, or drink, but it’s another to invite that very extreme sex experience. Timothy would tell me that Ed Buck likes to watch people get really high while wearing jocks, or long-johns, or underwear – it’s this kink scene.”
DA Jackie Lacey said that there simply isn’t enough evidence at this point to arrest Buck, according to Fox News. Specifically, detectives are trying to figure out who injected who with drugs.
“Because obviously if the victim has injected themselves with drugs then Buck would not be guilty of anything,” Lacey said in a Fox News interview. “We don’t care about drug use or anything like that, we’re willing to grant them immunity but we really need to hear from witnesses.”
A wrongful death civil rights lawsuit against Buck, Lacey and Assistant Head Deputy District Attorney Craig Hum was filed last week on behalf of Moore’s estate and his mother LaTisha Nixon in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Tell DA Jackie Lacey to Prosecute Ed Buck!
— #ArrestEdBuck (@Justice4Gemmel) February 25, 2019
Amster said in the the Los Angeles Times that he and Buck “categorically deny each and every allegation and look forward to litigating this matter in court.”
Dean was at a crossroad in his life before dying – he was on a spiritual journey of new understanding and purpose, Drew said. He had plans to change careers. According to his friend, he had multiple ambitions, which included plans to someday commit to a long-term relationship – he wanted to fall in love. Dean had plans to change careers, adopt a dog and, eventually, find his calling in life, Drew said.
“He was this saucey, funny man,” Drew said. “Then, on the flip side, he was hypersensitive, curious – the wonderment of what kind of life do I want, what’s the next phase of my life, what’s the next chapter. He was at that point. He loved working at Saks [Fifth Avenue], he loved the people he met.”
Drew, along with Dean’s family members, friends and a plethora of activists, all desire that Dean’s unexpected death in Buck’s apartment be followed by their own respective takes on justice.
“Yes, he [Buck] got involved with the Democrats but he wasn’t a big, big player,” Drew said. “He lives in his apartment – people talk about him as a multi-millionaire. It’s like, that’s not who he is. He’s just another queen living in West Hollywood.”