Tuesday marked the fourth anniversary of the day Gemmel Moore was found dead from a drug overdose in the West Hollywood, Calif., home of wealthy and white Democratic donor Ed Buck—it also marks the day Buck was finally held accountable for Moore’s death.
The 66-year-old white man with a fetish for luring gay Black men to his home, injecting them with methamphetamine and exploiting them for sexual favors was found guilty on every charge in his nine-count indictment related to the deaths of Moore and 55-year-old Timothy Dean, whose body was also found in Buck’s home. The charges included maintaining a drug den, distribution of methamphetamine resulting in death and enticement to cross state lines to engage in prostitution. Buck wasn’t arrested until a third Black man overdosed in his home and survived to tell his story.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the two counts of distribution of methamphetamine resulting in death each carry a minimum sentence of 20 years, meaning, even without the other charges he was convicted of being considered, Buck will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
Over the course of two weeks, a federal jury heard testimony from numerous men who said Buck paid them to parade in front of him modeling underwear and to do drugs like crystal meth and the well-known party drug GHB. Jurors also saw “excerpts from Buck’s hundreds of graphic videos and photos of the drugs-and-sex sessions,” the Times reports.
Buck’s convictions brought justice to Moore, Dean and their families, but the trial was, in many ways, about their deaths and the exploitation of some of the most vulnerable members of our society including drug addicts and homeless people.
From the Times:
The trial wound up giving voice to the men Buck victimized. Some of them were homeless and doing escort work to survive when Buck first invited them over; one lived in a tent under a 105 Freeway overpass. Buck paid the men extra when they let him inject them with meth, they testified. They said he enjoyed seeing them get so high that they lost control.
Videos played at the trial showed Buck touching some of the men sexually when they were asleep or unconscious.
“As much as this case is about Ed Buck, it’s also about our housing crisis, and what it makes people feel they have to do — play Russian roulette with their lives just to have a roof over their heads,” said Jasmyne Cannick, a political strategist who organized protests in the Buck case.
She said she was grateful that federal authorities took the Black victims seriously and said local prosecutors did not. “Our lives matter, our community matters, and just because someone is unhoused, an addict, may be a survival sex worker, or an escort, or HIV positive does not mean their lives don’t matter and we should look the other way when they show up dead in a white Democratic donor’s home.”
As we previously reported, Los Angeles County coroner’s officials initially ruled Moore’s death an accident, and sheriff’s deputies said they saw nothing suspicious about a young Black man found dead in the home of a rich white man. In fact, sheriff’s detectives didn’t launch a new investigation into Moore’s death until his family publicly questioned whether the drugs he took were self-administered and protests were organized.
Dane Brown—the man who survived a near-fatal overdose and escaped Buck’s drug den of abuse, exploitation and racism (some of Buck’s victims testified that he often called them racial slurs, which should surprise absolutely no one)—told reporters outside the courthouse, “I didn’t think I was going to be believed,” according to the Times.
“I’m so relieved that these families can get the justice that they deserve because they’re the ones who suffered pain more than I did,” he continued. “I made it out alive, but they’re suffering because they had to lose someone.”
Joyce Jackson, Dean’s sister, expressed relief after the guilty verdict saying, “Ed Buck will never harm anyone else, and I thank God for that.”
Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon, said she still keeps her son’s ashes by her bed and often tells the oldest of her five children that she loves and misses him.
“I was going to just lay in the bed today, which I have done for the past three years,” she told reporters outside the courthouse. “I just sleep the day away on the anniversary. I cry. And today, I had to get up and be here. Not just for Gemmel, but for Timothy Dean’s family and all the other victims.”