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For friends of the second man found dead in Ed Buck's apartment, a false narrative of his life deepens the pain

Matt Hamilton, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES -- In February, a month before his 55th birthday, Timothy Dean took the plunge into a rooftop pool in West Hollywood. It was a baptism at middle age for a man who was open and proud about his life's roundabout journey.

"I will never have everything all figured out at once," Dean wrote at the time, "but I have enough sorted out now that I can honestly say I'm happy, healthy & centered in my life."

Dean's life was cut short earlier this week. Authorities were called early Monday to the West Hollywood apartment of Democratic activist and donor Ed Buck and found Dean unconscious and not breathing. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene.

The cause of Dean's death has not been released. But Buck's attorney, Seymour Amster, stated it was an apparent overdose after Dean ingested a substance at another location and "came over intoxicated."

In the days since, the circumstances of Dean's death have prompted a homicide investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and become a subject of national interest. He is the second black man to die in Buck's Laurel Avenue residence -- a fact that has stoked outrage and suspicion among activists and community members.

In July 2017, Gemmel Moore, 26, died of a methamphetamine overdose in Buck's apartment, which was littered with drug paraphernalia, according to a Los Angeles County coroner's report. Buck, 64, was investigated in the death, and prosecutors last summer declined to file charges.

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As part of the investigation into Dean's death, detectives have said they are giving Moore's case another review.

For Dean's friends, the painful jolt of his death has been compounded by what they view as a false caricature of their friend played out in the media, with accusations of drug use and conjecture about his adult film roles that misconstrue the man he had become in recent years.

"He wasn't an angel, he wasn't a devil. He was in between, like everyone else," said Mark Chambers, who said he met Dean in 1991 through Lambda Basketball League, a gay men's basketball group.

Chambers, 54, said he knew Dean as a caring and outgoing friend who preferred to call on holidays and birthdays, not text, and showed up in person when someone was in need.

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