LOS ANGELES — For the second time in as many years, a man was found dead inside the home of a longtime Democratic donor in California, sparking a homicide investigation, officials said.
Ed Buck, who led the campaign to impeach Arizona Republican Gov. Evan Mecham in 1987 and is well-known in Los Angeles LGBTQ political circles, was at his home in West Hollywood around 1 a.m. Monday when the man became unresponsive and he called 911, authorities said. The man was pronounced dead at the scene when paramedics arrived.
Officials have not identified the man, but media outlets are describing him as being black. The cause of death has not yet been determined, pending autopsy and toxicology results.
In July 2017, a black man was also found dead in Buck’s apartment after overdosing on methamphetamine. Paramedics found 26-year-old Gemmel Moore naked on a mattress in the living room, which was littered with drug paraphernalia, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Homicide detectives initially found nothing suspicious about Moore’s death, which the coroner determined was an accident, but opened a second investigation a year later to determine whether Buck or anyone else was liable.
No charges were ever filed, but sheriff's officials said Monday that they will conduct another review of Moore’s case. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Derrick Alfred acknowledged outside the apartment building Monday that “it is suspicious that this has happened twice now."
A spokesperson for the Los Angeles District Attorney's office told BuzzFeed News that they have been in touch with sheriff's deputies about the case, but would not comment further, citing the ongoing investigation.
Buck, a one-time candidate for West Hollywood City Council, has given thousands of dollars to state Democratic lawmakers as well as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. His attorney, Seymour Amster, told reporters that Buck was merely helping a “longtime” friend who arrived at his home under the influence. Amster said Buck also called 911 and performed CPR while waiting for the ambulance.
"This is not a situation where Mr. Buck has caused a death,” Amster said. "This is a situation where Mr. Buck has had longtime friends who unfortunately do not handle their life well and then succumb when they are in the apartment of Mr. Buck."
Sheriff's officials have also said that Buck is not considered a suspect.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News Monday, civil rights attorney Nana Gyamfi, who represented Moore's family after his death, said that she was not surprised that another person had died at Buck's apartment.
"During the investigation in Gemmel’s case, both I and Gemmel's mother told the sheriff's department that if they did not stop Ed Buck that someone was going to die here," Gyamfi said. "There was a clear and present danger to young, black gay men."
"That’s not a prediction that you want to have come true — you hope you’re wrong," she added. "But this should not be surprising to them."
Monday night, however, protesters gathered outside his apartment building and demanded that authorities take action, calling Buck “a danger to this community."
Given his stature in local LGBTQ circles, the Los Angeles LGBT Center also issued a statement calling for a rigorous and transparent investigation into "a case that is so clearly linked to the health and safety of our community."
"The fact is, two black men have died at Mr. Buck’s home in less than two years," the center added.