For the second time in two years, Los Angeles detectives have found a man dead inside the apartment of Ed Buck, a political activist who rose to national prominence in the late 1980s for his effort to recall the governor of Arizona, the authorities said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said it received a 911 call shortly after 1 a.m. on Monday from a person who claimed that a man inside a West Hollywood apartment had stopped breathing and could not be resuscitated. When emergency responders arrived at the residence, a second-floor unit on Laurel Avenue, they declared the man dead.
The authorities have not determined how the man died, nor have they publicly released his identity other than to say he was an adult black man. A group of protesters rallied outside Mr. Buck’s apartment throughout the day Monday and demanded justice for the man and for another black man, Gemmel Moore, who was found naked and dead of a drug overdose on a mattress in Mr. Buck’s living room in July 2017.
The sheriff’s office said that homicide detectives were among those who responded to Mr. Buck’s residence on Monday, and that it would review its investigation into the death of Mr. Moore, 26, and conduct new interviews. Mr. Buck, now 64, was not charged in Mr. Moore’s death.
“It is suspicious that this has happened twice now, so we’re going to conduct a thorough investigation to determine if it is criminal in nature,” Lt. Derrick Alfred told KTLA-TV, a local television station.
Outside Mr. Buck’s apartment on Monday, Jasmyne Cannick, a political activist in Southern California, said that the latest man to die at his apartment fit the profile of people who have contacted her with concerns about Mr. Buck. She accused Mr. Buck of picking up black men outside bars, contacting them on dating apps and paying for those outside the state to fly to Los Angeles to see him.
“He never stops,” Ms. Cannick said at the rally, pointing to Mr. Buck’s apartment. “Most recently, a young man, he flew in from Minnesota and sent me his plane ticket showing me that Ed Buck had flew him in and that he had partied and played with Ed Buck.”
Later, Ms. Cannick added: “There will probably be some other young man who heads upstairs who has no idea of what happened today.”
LaTisha Nixon, the mother of Mr. Moore, wrote on Facebook on Tuesday that Mr. Buck “must be convicted” in the deaths of her son and the latest man.
“He will not stop,” Ms. Nixon wrote. “He will continue to hurt and kill black men. There are 2 people now that have lost their lives..#justice4gemmel”
A lawyer representing Mr. Buck, Seymour I. Amster, told reporters that he was innocent and not responsible for either man’s death. Mr. Buck was cooperating with the authorities, he said.
“This is not a situation where Mr. Buck has caused the death,” Mr. Amster said. “This is a situation where Mr. Buck has had longtime friends who, unfortunately, do not handle their life well.”
After Mr. Moore’s death, detectives interviewed Mr. Buck and considered him a suspect in the case, according to court documents obtained by The Los Angeles Times. But no charges were filed because the police could not prove “beyond a reasonable doubt that suspect Buck furnished drugs to Gemmel Moore or that suspect Buck possessed drugs,” the documents said.
The medical examiner ruled that Mr. Moore had died from an accidental methamphetamine overdose. The coroner’s report also noted that a journal, which was reviewed by The Los Angeles Times, was found in Mr. Moore’s possessions.
“I’ve become addicted to drugs and the worst one at that,” the journal said, according to the newspaper. “Ed Buck is the one to thank, he gave me my first injection.”
In another section, the journal said, “If it didn’t hurt so bad I’d kill myself but I’ll let Ed Buck do it for now.”
For nearly three decades, Mr. Buck has played a prominent role in politics and supported various causes, starting in 1987 in Arizona. That year, he led the Mecham Recall Committee, a movement to oust Gov. Evan Mecham, a Republican, who was later impeached over fraud and perjury allegations. Mr. Mecham derided his critics as “a band of homosexuals and dissident Democrats.” At the time, The New York Times described Mr. Buck, then a registered Republican, as a “33-year-old millionaire entrepreneur who retired from the insurance service business a year ago” to lead the recall drive.
Since then, Mr. Buck has given more than $ 116,000 to Democratic politicians and groups, including about $ 1,500 to support Barack Obama and $ 2,950 to Hillary Clinton, according to OpenSecrets.org, which tracks campaign fund-raising. Mr. Buck is also prominent in L.G.B.T. political circles and ran unsuccessfully for the West Hollywood City Council about a decade ago.
The Los Angeles LGBT Center called on the sheriff’s office to conduct a thorough investigation of the man’s death in West Hollywood.
“The reports we have heard provide more questions than answers,” the group said in a statement. “The fact is two black men have died at Mr. Buck’s home in less than two years.”