The investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department into the July 27 death of Gemmel Moore is ongoing, with limited immunity granted to some potential witnesses, Lieutenant Joe Mendoza of the Homicide Bureau tells the Los Angeles Blade. Mendoza’s team of detectives is working with the Coroner and the district attorney’s office in the investigation.
“What they’re working on right now is trying to interview any possible individuals that might have any knowledge as to what transpired during this incident,” Mendoza says about what the Coroner determined was an “accidental overdose” from methamphetamine. “I know that in the media, there’s been a lot of different people interviewed. However, we cannot use that because it’s hearsay. So we’re trying to identify those individuals and interview them ourselves so we can get a first hand account of what they know regarding this investigation.”
Moore, 26, an escort, died in the West Hollywood apartment of regular client Ed Buck 63, a locally known Democratic politico. West Hollywood Sheriff’s deputies initially found no direct evidence of foul play.
However, another young black male client of Buck’s told Moore’s mother and community activists that Buck’s sexual fetish involved injection use of crystal meth. When Moore’s mother, LaTisha Nixon, went public with her concerns that there was more to her son’s death than a simple overdose, Sheriff Jim McDonnell ordered detectives to delve deeper.
“When we became aware of the concern by the family, we had Homicide [Bureau] take at look at it,” McDonnell says. “What the outcome will be, I don’t know at this point. But I can tell you, it is getting the attention that it should.”
Buck’s attorney Seymour Amster told the Los Angeles Times that his client had “nothing to do with this young man’s tragic death.” Amster said Moore’s overdose was “a self-imposed accidental death.” Buck has not yet publicly commented.
McDonnell corrected media reports that suggested the investigation was prompted by new evidence, new information. “It wasn’t that. It was that issues were raised by the family” and news accounts, he says. That was “enough to ask our Homicide detectives to take a look at this case and report on it.”
“We felt it was our obligation to look into those issues,” McDonnell added.
Mendoza says they are in the early stages of conducting in-depth interviews to submit to the district attorney’s office “so they can render an opinion if there’s any criminal culpability on the part of anyone.”
Neither the Sheriff’s Department nor the District Attorney’s office has yet made a determination about whether a crime has been committed.
Moore’s death prompted the launching of the South LA Crystal Meth Task Force to look at the crystal meth epidemic among young black gay men. The next meeting is on Oct. 11, 2-3:30pm, at In The Meantime Wellness, 2146 W. Adams Blvd LA CA 90018. Check Jeffrey King’s Facebook page for more.