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Democratic donor's attorney says critics have unfairly used race to blame his client for 2 deaths

Hailey Branson-Potts, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES -- The attorney for Ed Buck, the longtime Democratic donor whose West Hollywood home has been the scene of two black men's deaths since 2017, said Friday that critics have unfairly used race to blame his client for the deaths.

"Some people still want us to have a race war," attorney Seymour Amster said of Buck's critics. "Some people want to look at things as black, white or brown. It's not. If we want to move forward and get away from identifying individuals by race, we must take race out of the conversation."

Los Angeles County sheriff's homicide detectives are investigating the death of Timothy Dean, 55, of West Hollywood, who was found dead in Buck's Laurel Avenue apartment early Monday.

Buck, a 64-year-old white man, previously was investigated in the July 2017 death of Gemmel Moore, a 26-year-old black man who died of a methamphetamine overdose in Buck's home, which was littered with drug paraphernalia, according to a Los Angeles County coroner's report.

Prosecutors this summer declined to file charges, and Buck has not been arrested in either case. The Sheriff's Department said he was present for both deaths.

Protesters, most of whom were black, gathered outside Buck's apartment this week demanding his prosecution. Some protesters turned on Buck's neighbors -- most of whom were white -- accusing them of being complicit.

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"If a black man was living there, you wouldn't be OK with it," one of the protesters shouted.

Jasmyne Cannick, a political consultant who has advocated for Moore's family and who organized this week's protest, has accused Buck of preying on vulnerable black men, such as sex workers and homeless men, for sexual gratification. Cannick, who is running to be a delegate to the California Democratic party, said she has spoken to multiple men who share similar stories about their interactions with Buck.

Buck is "a man who they say has a Tuskegee Experiment like fetish which includes shooting drugs into young Black men that he picks up off the street or via dating hookup websites," Cannick said in a statement.

On Friday, Amster told the Los Angeles Times that Buck is the victim of a "character attack" and that the cases have been sensationalized.

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