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Homicide Detectives Investigating Fatal Overdose At WeHo Home Of Democratic Donor

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(Photo courtesy of Jasmyne Cannick, via Facebook.)
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On the night of July 27, 26-year-old Gemmel Moore was found dead from a drug overdose at the West Hollywood apartment of wealthy Democratic donor Ed Buck. Now, L.A. County Sheriff's homicide detectives have opened a new investigation into the circumstances of Moore's death after initially ruling it an accident.

Moore, a native of Victorville, Texas who had reportedly struggled with homelessness and drug addiction and had engaged in sex work since moving to Los Angeles, died of a methamphetamine overdose in Buck's Laurel Avenue home, the WeHo Times first reported last Monday. A longtime Democratic Party donor and onetime candidate for West Hollywood City Council, Buck made several contributions to Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign.

The Sheriff's Department is conducting a follow-up investigation into Moore's death based on "additional information," Sheriff Jim McDonnell told the L.A. Times on Monday. LAist reached out to the Sheriff's Department for comment on what specific information triggered the follow-up investigation, but did not immediately hear back.

Moore's mother, LaTisha Nixon, has called for further investigation into Buck's role in her son's death, telling the WeHo Times last week that Buck "would pleasure himself at the sight of my son using drugs." Nixon also alleges that Buck used Moore to recruit other young, black gay men whom he could supply with "heroin, meth and other drugs," and suggests that Buck's political status may have influenced the Sheriff's Department's initial ruling of Moore's death as an accident. Buck has not commented on the investigation, but an August 8 statement from the Stonewall Democratic Club announced his resignation from the organization's steering committee.

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Jasmyne Cannick, a journalist and LGBT+ advocate who has helped to publicize Moore's death, claims that Moore's journal—which Cannick published on her blog—paints a portrait of a vulnerable young man struggling with homelessness, addiction and an HIV diagnosis, being exploited by a wealthy, powerful older man. In the journal, Moore states outright that Buck had fueled his addiction, giving him his first injection of crystal meth. Cannick says she obtained the journal through Moore's family. Seymour Amster, Buck's attorney, has dismissed Moore's journals as "unverified writing."

Cannick says that the investigation surrounding Moore's death represents an unique intersection between African-American and LGBT+ identity and Democratic Party interests in Los Angeles, telling LAist on Tuesday, "I've worked in politics my whole career, and people always want to distance themselves from a political scandal."

"After Charlottesville, there's a lot of talk within the Democratic Party about 'coalition building' and being 'stronger together,' but here's [Ed Buck] smiling with Eric Garcetti, smiling with Jerry Brown, and nobody has anything to say about this young, black, gay man's life," said Cannick.