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Mother of man who died in Ed Buck’s home in 2017 blasts L.A. district attorney

LaTisha Nixon, mother of Gemmel Moore
LaTisha Nixon, center, during a news conference at West Hollywood Park. At right is Jasmyne Cannick, an advocate for the family.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Two years after her son Gemmel Moore died in the West Hollywood apartment of Democratic donor Ed Buck, LaTisha Nixon said Los Angeles County prosecutors ignored her pleas to investigate and did not communicate with her.

Last week, Buck was arrested and the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office charged him with operating a drug house. Nixon said she only learned of the arrest and charges because she got a call from Jasmyne Cannick, an activist who has become a spokeswoman for her family.

Later that week, federal prosecutors announced they were charging Buck with one count of distributing methamphetamine leading to a death.

That death was that of her son, but, Nixon said, she was surprised once again and had no advance notice of the charges being announced.

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“No one has reached out to me,” she said Wednesday. “I haven’t heard from anybody. I get updates from both of my attorneys and Jasmyne.”

The man who Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey said “gave us the break we needed” in the Ed Buck case is without a home and has an uncertain future.

At a news conference Wednesday, Nixon expressed withering criticism of the district attorney’s investigation of Moore’s 2017 death and said she was grateful that federal investigators now are involved in the case.

“I did not see that coming,” Nixon said of the federal charges. “I was so happy … that it got snatched from Jackie Lacey.”

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“Jackie Lacey, she dragged her feet,” Nixon added.

Buck’s behavior first came under scrutiny in July 2017 after Moore died of a methamphetamine overdose in Buck’s apartment. Investigators initially ruled his death to be accidental, but activists and Moore’s family quickly challenged that determination. In a journal found among 26-year-old Moore’s possessions, Moore blamed Buck for his drug addiction, saying Buck “gave me my first injection of [crystal] meth.”

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department revisited the case, and, in 2018, investigators asked prosecutors to consider four charges in Moore’s death: murder, voluntary manslaughter, and furnishing and possessing drugs. Lacey declined to file a case, citing insufficient evidence.

When a second man, 55-year-old Timothy Dean, died of a methamphetamine overdose in Buck’s apartment in January, the Sheriff’s Department said it would take another look at the case.

Buck was arrested at the apartment last Tuesday night, less than a week after a man fled his home fearing he was suffering a methamphetamine overdose, prosecutors said. Buck tried to prevent him from getting medical attention, authorities said. The man, referred to in court documents as Joe Doe, was able to get to a gas station and call 911 after the Sept. 11 incident, which investigators have said was key to bringing charges against Buck.

Nixon and friends of her family say they believe Buck — who retired decades ago and was primarily known around West Hollywood for his donations to Democratic politicians and causes — was not arrested for two years after Moore’s death because of political connections and because he was white and Moore and Dean were black. Authorities have denied those allegations.

This week, Buck was issued a notice from lawyers for his apartment’s property owners to leave the premises within three days.

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In a Sept. 23 letter, the Valley Village law firm of Dennis P. Block & Associates told Buck his lease was terminated because of his “indecent, offensive, harassing and annoying” conduct, including the discovery of drugs and the deaths of two people.

Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, has not returned requests for comment.

After Nixon’s press conference Wednesday afternoon, Greg Risling, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said in an email: “Our office declines comment.”

Nixon said Wednesday that she received a call last year from a sheriff’s detective just before it was announced that the district attorney would not be pressing charges in her son’s death. After that, she never heard from investigators again, she said.

“I haven’t heard anything,” she said. “I have been treated so poorly.”

According to a 22-page federal criminal complaint unsealed last week, 10 men told investigators that Buck had paid them to use drugs and dress up in skimpy underwear for his own sexual pleasure. Several of the men claimed they lost consciousness after Buck served them a drink, and some said they woke up to the sight of him injecting drugs into their arms against their will, according to the complaint.

Nixon said she has felt like authorities did not take her seriously when she said she worried there would be more men to overdose in Buck’s home. She said she is grateful that Joe Doe did not die there.

“Joe Doe is a hero,” she said. “We could not have done this without him. I’m just so blessed and so grateful that he wasn’t the third victim. Because I said it the last time we were down here, that there was going to be a third victim. We said there was going to be a second victim. We kept saying because we all knew ... Ed Buck didn’t stop doing what he was doing. We all knew.”

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Nixon said that, at home in Texas, she tried to watch the joint press conference last week in which Lacey and federal prosecutors discussed the case but turned it off because she thought Lacey “was lying” when she said prosecutors did everything they could to get Buck behind bars.

If she and Cannick had not kept up the pressure to keep Moore’s death in the public eye, Nixon said, it would have been forgotten.

“It just hurts me that people are lying. … My son died. My child that I birthed out of my body. I can’t see him. I can’t talk to him. All I have left is memories; that’s it. So while you may see me look like I have it all together, I’m dying on the inside.

“A piece of me died July 27, which is the reason why I couldn’t just keep quiet.”


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