For the second time within 18 months, a man was found dead at the West Hollywood home of wealthy Democratic donor Edward Buck, authorities said Monday.
Paramedics responded to Buck’s apartment in the 1200 block of Laurel Avenue shortly after 1 a.m., where they discovered an unresponsive victim, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
They tried reviving the man, but he was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.
Officials only described the victim as a black man in his 50s. Investigators did not release his name Monday.
His death comes after 26-year-old Gemmel Moore was found dead from an apparent overdose at the same apartment on July 27, 2017.
On Monday, officials confirmed Buck was present during both incidents and said Moore’s case is now facing another review.
“It is suspicious that this has happened twice now,” sheriff’s Lt. Derrick Alfred told KTLA, “so we’re going to conduct a thorough investigation to determine if it is criminal in nature.”
However, Buck was not named as a suspect and has not been arrested. His attorney, Seymour Amster, has denied Buck is responsible for either death.
Amster told reporters Monday that the man found dead had been friends with Buck for 25 years and “had already been partying … and already taken some substances” before he arrived. He said Buck was in the shower for some of the time and had not taken any substances with the victim.
“The individual was exhibiting bizarre behavior,” Amster said of the man who died.
Jackie Tepper, who lives in the area, said she was out walking her dogs when she saw the man go into Buck’s home around 12:15 a.m.
“I woke up to find out that he didn’t come out,” she said.
Dozens of activists rallied outside the apartment Monday evening, calling for the prominent donor’s arrest and prosecution in connection with both deaths.
Political strategist and commentator Jasmyne Cannick said the prominent donor been using his wealth to avoid prosecution.
“He gives money to (L.A. Mayor) Eric Garcetti, he’s given money to (L.A. County District Attorney) Jackie Lacey, he’s given money to (former U.S. Senate candidate and state Sen.) Kevin de Léon, he has given money to Gavin Newsom, our new governor,” she said. “He spreads his money around to get access and influence into these powerful circles.”
Buck also previously donated to Hillary Clinton.
Similar accusations were made following Moore’s death, with outraged loved ones insistent that Buck played a role and should face repercussions.
Those who knew him have said the 26-year-old was working as an escort when he visited Buck’s home in July 2017 — an allegation Amster denied.
Moore’s mother, Latisha Nixon, has accused Buck of having young black men like her son ingest dangerous amounts of drugs for his own pleasure. She has said other escorts have confirmed the allegations.
“Ed Buck has been soliciting young gay black men,” Nixon said weeks after her son’s death.
“He has them wear these long white ‘under-johns.’ He takes pictures of them,” she said. “He hits them up with meth. The more meth that they smoke and inject, the more money that he gives them.”
Another man who said he was also a victim of Buck, who asked to remain anonymous, previously told KTLA that Buck would instruct escorts to use high levels of drugs so he could watch their reactions.
“He gets his thrills just based off you getting high,” he said. “He wants to see your reaction. He wants to see how can you take it — if you can handle it or not.”
According to a journal provided to KTLA by a family friend, Moore wrote of having relations with Buck and a drug addiction that involved him.
“I honestly don’t know what to do. I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that,” an entry in December 2016 reads. “Ed Buck is the one to thank. He gave me my first injection of crystal meth it was very painful, but after all the troubles, I became addicted to the pain and fetish/fantasy.”
But Amster said no handwriting expert has looked at the entries and photos involved in the case have been “fabricated.” He adamantly denied Buck played any role in Moore’s death or in the most recent incident.
“This is not a situation where Mr. Buck had caused the death,” the attorney said. “This is a situation where Mr. Buck has had longtime friends who, unfortunately, do not handle their life well then succumb when they are in the apartment of Mr. Buck.”
Moore’s death has been ruled accidental.
Homicide detectives reopened his case following backlash from friends and family, including pressure Nixon put on West Hollywood City Council to push for further investigation and prosecution. But the District Attorney’s Office ultimately declined to file charges against Buck, citing insufficient evidence, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The decision came just a day before the anniversary of Moore’s death.
“It seems like everyone is turning a blind eye because my son was a gay black man and Ed Buck is a wealthy white politician,” Nixon has said.
KTLA’s Jennifer Thang and Erika Martin contributed to this report.