SANTA MONICA—A lawsuit was filed against the city of Santa Monica on Wednesday, September 4 in connection to the death of a man murdered under the Santa Monica Pier in 2018. The victim has been identified as Steven Ray Cruze Jr. 39, of San Gabriel Valley.
He was attacked on September 20, 2018, while he slept under the pier after an overnight fishing trip. According to officials, Cruze was killed by a blow to the head with a blunt force object.
His body was discovered after the Santa Monica Pier’s Twilight Concert Series’ Wednesday night performance.
The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court names the Santa Monica Pier Corp., the city of Los Angeles and the state of California as the defendants in the complaint. The suit alleges the defendants were negligent which created an unsafe environment leading to Cruze’s death. The defendants are also being tried for premises liability, and dangerous condition of property.
In the complaint, the victim’s son who is only identified as J.C., allege that the defendants regularly allowed overcrowding on the pier during events. This overcrowding forced some in attendance to take refuge under the pier and on the beach putting attendants in danger by not providing adequate security.
Efforts were made last year allowing officials with the Santa Monica Police Department to better manage the crowds at large events hosted on the pier. Security and safety for the attendants were a major concern for the city officials.
Cruze’s killer, Ramon Escobar, 47, was charged with a series of attacks that transpired in Los Angeles and Santa Monica that left four men dead and eight others injured. It was reported that most of Escobar’s victims were transients. His crime spree spanned from September 8, 2018 to September 24, 2018.
During the attacks, Escobar utilized a baseball bat or blunt force object to attack his victims while they slept.
Authorities stated that the motive for the attacks were robbery. A mental competency hearing for Escobar will be held on October 17, 2019. According to authorities, Cruze was the only victim that he attacked that was not a transient.
Canyon News received an email from Raeleen Navarro, the cousin of Steven Cruze noting that he was not homeless as first reported by multiple news outlets.
Navarro noted that “Steven worked, he had a son he supported, and called his father everyday to let him know if he was coming home or not regarding his work. He helped the homeless a lot, he would take them food, clothes, sometimes even a fishing pole to fish next to him, he was the most giving person.”