UPDATED: Timothy Dean’s Jan. 7 death in the West Hollywood apartment of political activist Ed Buck has been ruled an accidental methamphetamine overdose, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“Sheriff’s homicide investigators are continuing their investigation into the death of Timothy Dean,” Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Nicole Nishida said in a March 25 statement.
Buck’s attorney Seymour Amster told the LA Times: “We stand by our position that unfortunately Mr. Dean ingested drugs at a location other than Mr. Buck’s, and he came over intoxicated, and it’s a tragedy.”
Dean, 55, a West Hollywood resident, was the second Black male to die of an accidental meth overdose in Buck’s apartment. The coroner reported that in July 2017, Gemmel Moore, 26, also died there of an accidental meth OD. Buck, 64, was present for both deaths.
The press has inaccurately written that the coroner’s report released after Moore’s death noted that the apartment was “littered with drug paraphernalia,” implying it was in plain sight.
In fact, the report, which the Los Angeles Blade obtained, says: “Medical evidence: multiple prescription medications were located in a small zippered bag inside the decedent’s backpack that was positioned on the couch in the living room. Multiple syringes with brown residue, scale, lighters, straw with possible white residue, glass pipes with white residue and burn marks, plastic bags with white powdery and a clear plastic bag with crystal-like substance was located in drawers of the tool box roll-cabinet in the living room.”
The LA district attorney’s office declined to prosecute on four charges against Buck—murder, voluntary manslaughter, and furnishing and possessing drugs. The July 26 Charge Evaluation Worksheet noted that the “admissible evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that suspect Buck furnished drugs to Gemmel Moore or that suspect Buck possessed drugs,” according to Deputy DA Craig W. Hum.
The evidence may have been inadmissible because, as was also noted, deputies conducted an inadmissible search and seizure—most likely of the tool box roll-cabinet in which the drug paraphernalia was found.
LA DA Jackie Lacey issued a public letter on March 12, in which she said she empathized with Moore and Dean’s family and friends; said Buck and his home remain under investigation; and called for the public’s help. But, she added, “When any allegation is considered for possible criminal prosecution, the issue is whether there is clear evidence that a crime has occurred and whether that is sufficient to convince a jury of 12 people of a defendant’s guilt. Prosecutors cannot ethically file charges without such facts in hand.”
Dean’s family and friends gathered in West Hollywood on March 24 to commemorate his 56th birthday.
– Staff reports contributed to this story