D.A. Jackie Lacey Cites Errors by Investigators in Explaining Her Initial Decision Not to Prosecute Ed Buck


 Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey says errors committed by Sheriff’s deputies and a coroner’s office investigator may have played a significant role in the decision not to criminally charge Ed Buck in the death of a man who overdosed in his West Hollywood home in 2017.

DA Jackie Lacey speaking before a contentious crowd at the Stonewall Democratic Club meeting (Image from Facebook)

Speaking Monday night to the Stonewall Democratic Club, which posted a video of the event to Facebook, Lacey told the group that responding deputies illegally searched a red toolbox inside Buck’s home on Laurel Avenue that was found near the body of Gemmel Moore in July 2017, the Los Angeles Times reported. The deputies, who were assigned to the West Hollywood station, did so based on the erroneous advice of a coroner’s department investigator at the scene, she said.

“They noticed around Mr. Moore’s body that there was a red toolbox. And they wanted to search that toolbox for evidence. A coroner’s investigator gave them information that turned out to be incorrect,” she said.

Moore’s death in 2017 has long served as a crucible for Lacey, who has repeatedly been blasted by activists in the LGBT and African American communities for failing to hold Buck accountable for alleged predatory behavior toward young men. Another man, Timothy Dean, died of an overdose in Buck’s home in January of this year and a third man nearly suffered the same fate in September, according to court records.

Many activists have argued that the gap in status between Buck, a wealthy Democratic donor, and his victims, many of whom had been homeless and people of color, played a role in the decision not to prosecute him.

Buck was arrested in September, more than two years after Moore’s death, and charged with running a drug den. A short time later, federal prosecutors charged Buck with providing the drugs that led to both Moore*s and Dean*s deaths as well as three counts of drug distribution.


Buck faces a minimum of 20 years in federal prison if convicted. Buck was represented at his arraignment in federal court by a public defender. Seymour Amster, who has represented Buck in the past, has declined to say whether he still represents Buck.

The details of the federal indictment only intensified questions about why it took so long to charge Buck, despite the fact that several men had come forward and claimed Buck engaged in predatory behavior and injected them with drugs against their will.

Prosecutors cited an “inadmissible search and seizure” among the reasons not to prosecute Buck in connection with Moore’s death when they filed a memo declining to charge him with manslaughter in 2018. But neither Lacey nor the Sheriff’s Department has answered questions beyond that one document.

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4 years ago

will ALL know why she elected not to prosecute.

4 years ago
Reply to  Ham

Really? And what are the facts you could share with us.

John Fitzgerald Keitel

I smell it! That tried but true device of distraction. And it’s red, too! Are we really just going to leave it there, at “the red toolbox?” Or am I supposed to get that, like a true red herring, the toolbox has no meaningful bearing or relevance other than to mislead and ultimately thwart the investigators, causing the whole lot to get thrown out of court? Is that, in fact, what happened? The investigators improperly searched a red toolbox, ergo, Ed Buck remained free? I guess because they weren’t supposed to search it, they’re not supposed to tell us what… Read more »

4 years ago

Thank you for informing the public about our meeting. A video is posted at https://www.facebook.com/StonewallDemocraticClub/videos/585654312240550/
Just one correction: We are not the “Los Angeles Chapter of the Stonewall Democratic Club,” we ARE the Stonewall Democratic Club.

Staff Report
4 years ago

Thanks for that clarification. The story will be updated to reflect that.

Michael Grace
Michael Grace
4 years ago

Of course West Hollywood has the corrupt Los Angeles County Sheriff dragging their feet when it came to the Ed Buck investigation. Buck’s longtime attorney, former Mayor #antimetoo John Duran, along with Eric Bauman, former chair of the California Democrat Party who resigned because of sexual harassment charges, along with other politicians did everything to bury the Ed Buck case. And what’s worse the West Hollywood City Council did the same thing except for Lindsey Horvath. Why don’t they just hang the KKK flag up there with the Rrainbow flag in front of City Hall? As far as the totally… Read more »

Jon Ponder
4 years ago

26 months after Gemmel Moore’s death, and we’re hearing about the illegal search of the toolbox for the first time. This is, at the very least, poor public relations. It suggests that no one at the DA’s office or the Sheriff’s Department believed it was necessary to inform the community about this serious breach.

John FItzgerald Keitle
Reply to  Jon Ponder

Or, that the red toolbox is really just a red herring.

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