Gemmel Moore
Gemmel Moore
Courtesy LaTisha Nixon

Homicide Bureau Is Looking Into Overdose Death at Home of Political Donor

Friends and family of Gemmel Moore are planning a candlelight vigil Friday to urge diligence in the investigation of the 26-year-old's suspected overdose death at the West Hollywood residence of a prominent local political player, Ed Buck.

L.A. Weekly reported yesterday that Moore's mother, LaTisha Nixon, was asking authorities to conduct an inquiry into Moore's death. The same day, the department opened a case. "In an abundance of caution, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau has assigned several investigators to review the circumstances of the death to determine if any criminal culpability exists," according to a sheriff's statement.

Pages of Moore's journal were published yesterday by journalist and political commentator Jasmyne Cannick. According to one entry:

“I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worse [sic] one at that. Ed Buck is the one to thank, he gave me my first injection of chrystal [sic] meth. It was very painful but after all the troubles I became addicted to the pain and fetish/fantasy. … I just hope the end result isn’t death. … If it didn’t hurt so bad I’d kill myself but I’ll let Ed Buck do it for now.”

Buck's attorney, Seymour I. Amster, who represented serial killer Lonnie Franklin Jr. (aka the Grim Sleeper), says: "Ed had nothing to do with his [Moore's] death.

"I think the investigation is the responsible thing to do," Amster adds, "but I think nothing will come of it. Ed is a caring soul who allows individuals to have access to his home who are homeless or who have other social or economic issues, to give them a place to wash up in a safe environment. Unfortunately many of these individuals come in with their lifestyles."

Asked if Buck did drugs with the victim, the attorney said, "I don't think his personal lifestyle is the issue. I'm not going to accept an invitation to go into the private aspects of his life. This was a tragedy and that's all it was."

The July 27 death was initially treated as an accidental overdose by deputies and coroner's investigators, with representatives of both teams saying the case was essentially closed pending toxicology tests, which could take months to complete.

"An investigation by the responding deputies revealed no suspicious circumstances of foul play," according to the Sheriff's Department. "This was verified by the responding Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner investigator. The cause of death was determined to be an accidental overdose."

Coroner's assistant chief Ed Winter said that methamphetamine was the suspected drug. He cited a witness, drug paraphernalia found at the scene and the victim's alleged history of drug use.

Moore was pronounced dead at an apartment belonging to Buck, who once ran for West Hollywood City Council and who burst onto the national political scene in 1987 when he led the effort to recall then–Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham.

Moore's mother, Nixon, has been prodding sheriff's officials to investigate the case.

"I just want everybody to know it's about justice for Gemmel," she said Tuesday. "I want this to come to light."

The vigil is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. outside the West Hollywood Sheriff's Station. A GoFundMe page has been launched to help Nixon pay for private services, which are slated for Saturday.

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