South Hollywood, CA–Last night, at South Hollywood’s City Council meeting, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office gave an update into the investigation of Edward Buck.
Buck, described as a “influential Democratic donor” has been the center of public attention after two Black men have been found dead in his apartment. Gemmel Moore, 26, was found July 2017 and was reported to have died from an overdose of meth. 55-year-old Timothy Dean was found deceased in Buck’s apartment last month.
Multiple speakers addressed the Council last night and asked for their support in the full investigation and arrest of Ed Buck. They shared publicly that members of the community believe the lack of will to investigate and hold Buck accountable for these deaths, can be attributed to the nature of sex work the victims were involved in and their race as Black men.
West Seegmiller, of the Sex Workers Outreach Project was of those who spoke during public comment. He shared that over 41 organizations have shared concerns and called for an investigation including SWOP, the American Civil Liberties Union, and both the LGBTQ centers of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
“We honor the lives of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean and demand justice for survivors of Ed Buck,” Seegmiller said. “While race has informed the lack of response from the state and the city of West Hollywood, the stigma against sex work, enables the violence experienced by Gemmel Moore and others at the hands of Ed Buck.”
Jerome Kitchen is the god-brother of Moore and has been a tireless advocate for over two years assisting his mother who lives in Texas, in advocating for Buck’s arrest. He also spoke during public comment, condemning mayor John Duran, who he referred to multiple times as a “perve.”
Kitchen also expressed disappointment over the lack of concern from police or the council, when he was verbally assaulted and called the N word outside the council chambers last week.
William Moulder, who is the acting Captain of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, relayed to the Council that L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has promised a “thorough and objective” investigation into the deaths.
Moulder said that currently, detectives are in the process of contacting other possible victims of Buck. Although he was not investigating the case himself, Moulder said that he was in constant contact with detectives who were working the case, as well as the sister of Dean.
“I told her anytime she wants to talk about it, she can give me a call.”
Councilmember Lindsey Horvath was the first council member to raise questions about the investigation in response to the Sheriff’s report. She relayed that the Council was ready to provide whatever resources necessary to assist the Sheriff’s Office in the investigation.
“What I am struggling with, is communicating to residents who are deeply disturbed at the similarities in both cases. And the concern it raises to them that it may happen again,” Horvath said. What are you doing to make sure this doesn’t happen again?”
Moulder relayed that the investigation is the process they are going through to ensure they can stop these type of deaths from happening again.
John D’Amico of the Council also inquired about Moore’s case that he referred to as “quietly closed” around six months ago. He wanted to know if the case was re-opened and if officers were looking at both of those cases in relationship to each other.
“In the Gemmel Moore case, we did investigate and present evidence to the District Attorney’s office. The day before the year anniversary of Moore’s death, the District Attorney’s did not decide to pursue prosecution in that situation. This current investigation will certainly inform more information.”
After the Sheriff gave his statement, he was swarmed by news reporters and supporters of Moore’s and Dean outside. Supporters were frustrated over what they viewed as a lack of updates.
“Tonight, you came out here with a folder full of nothing. A mom is going to sleep tonight knowing nothing. Everything you told us, we could have did in a Facebook status. How insensitive is it, that the people who are investigating this crime, are not here. How do we take them serious if they have not shown their face to the community?” Kitchen questioned.
Jasmine Cannick was also present and relayed to media that only today, did she recieve an email from the Sheriff’s office who detailed they were now ready to interview other possible victims of Buck.
“It is almost a month since Dean’s death and I just received an email today that said they were finally ready to conduct interviews. We have had the letters of immunity from the D.A’s office for quite some time and the Sheriff’s office was too busy to conduct interviews with witnesses or victims.” Cannick continued, “It’s disheartening to hear the Sheriff say they have been working hard on this. They have not.”