LOS ANGELES (AP) – A second man who died at the Southern California apartment of a Democratic donor in less than two years was identified Thursday as a well-liked luxury department store worker who loved dressing up and hiking.
Fifty-five-year-old Timothy Dean of West Hollywood was pronounced dead at the apartment Monday after police responded to a report of a person not breathing.
Dean is the second black man in 18 months to die at the West Hollywood apartment of Ed Buck, a 64-year-old white man who has donated tens of thousands of dollars to California candidates and is well known in LGBTQ political circles.
Activists and family members have been calling for Buck’s arrest, saying if Dean and the other man who died, 26-year-old Gemmel Moore, had been white, there would be more attention and action on the case.
Moore died of a methamphetamine overdose in July 2017. He was found naked on a mattress in Buck’s living room, which was littered with drug paraphernalia.
Prosecutors said they weren’t charging the case because there was insufficient evidence.
Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, said at the time that Buck and Moore were friends and his client had nothing to do with Moore’s death.
Amster told reporters Monday that Buck was cooperating with the investigation into Dean’s death, which he called an accidental overdose.
He said Dean was an “old-time friend” of Buck’s who showed up at his apartment after he “had been partying, apparently, and had already taken some substances.”
“There are some individuals in our society who have a huge heart, maybe bigger than what they should have, and they allow individuals to come over … and then things happen after – not being involved in their death, trying to help them and counsel them to change their ways,” Amster said. “But this is what happens.”
Sheriff’s officials say the investigation into Dean’s death will include a review of Moore’s death.
Dean’s roommate of three years, Ottavio Taddei, told reporters Thursday that Dean worked at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills and was well-liked.
“He was a wonderful person,” he said. “I lived with him and he never did drugs. I’ve never seen him on drugs ever.”
Dean’s Facebook page shows that he loved hiking in Southern California, and dressing up in well-cut suits.
On Nov. 1, he posted pictures of the sunset and a martini from his balcony, writing: “Life is simple, life is good!!!”
Friends and family posted tributes to him, with one writing that he was “seriously one of the good ones and (had) the biggest heart in the world.”
Dean’s death renewed calls from Moore’s family for Buck’s prosecution.
“We are heartbroken. We are sickened. We are outraged,” Nana Gyamfi, an attorney representing Moore’s mother, said in a statement that criticized police and prosecutors for failing to arrest or charge Buck.
“Instead of heeding our warnings and following the leads we presented to them, they spent our meeting time alternatively trying to convince us that there was not evidence to charge Ed Buck with a crime or that even if there was enough evidence, the charges would not be worth pursuing,” the statement said.
Buck came to political notice in Arizona in the 1980s as a leader of a recall drive against then-Republican Gov. Evan Mecham, who had attracted widespread publicity for canceling a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday for state workers.
Buck was arrested in 1983 for fondling another man in an adult bookstore and in 1987 for trying to obtain a drug without the proper prescription. The public indecency charge was reduced to disturbing the peace, and Buck paid a $26 fine. Prosecution in the drug case was suspended after he agreed to counseling.
In California, Buck ran unsuccessfully for the West Hollywood City Council about a decade ago. He has frequently opened his checkbook in recent years to support Democratic candidates, including $2,000 to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s campaign and $5,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu, a California Democrat, said he was “deeply disturbed” by the disclosure of a second death at Buck’s home and would donate $18,500 in contributions he received from Buck to charity.
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