Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Sarah Storkin
Observer Staff Writer 

Lawsuit over Party Bus Shooting Near SM Pier, Alleges Failure to Provide Security

De'Ommie de la Cruz was returning to her seat when shots were fired between the passengers of the two buses.

 

December 3, 2018

Lawsuit over Party Bus Shooting

An early-morning shooting between two party buses near the Santa Monica Pier last year resulted in the death of 28-year-old De'Ommie de la Cruz. Now her friends and relatives are suing the city and the bus company for negligence they say contributed to her demise.

De'Ommie de la Cruz was on the Lion Limousine Corp. bus on November 3, 2017 in order to celebrate the birthday of a friend. When the passengers asked for a bathroom break just before 1 a.m., the driver pulled over in the vicinity of Ocean Avenue and the Santa Monica Pier.

The lawsuit alleges that the women on the bus were hesitant to get off once they saw men from another bus, who they thought appeared to be gang members. But when the driver warned them he would not make any more restroom stops, they exited the bus.

According to the lawsuit, De'Ommie de la Cruz and her friends were returning to their bus when an altercation broke out between the passengers of the two buses. Shots were fired.

In an interview shortly after the shooting, De'Ommie's mother, Tomeika de la Cruz, said she believed her daughter was shot because she was helping others get back on the bus during the fracas. De'Ommie was reportedly a school bus driver and a former security guard.

Three victims from the bus were struck and a fourth person on the street. The suspects reportedly jumped a railing toward the cliff above the Pacific Coast Highway.

Following the shooting, the bus driver drove three gunshot victims to the Santa Monica police headquarters. The victims were then taken to an area hospital, where De'Ommie de la Cruz died from multiple gunshot wounds.

Lt. Saul Rodriguez of SMPD told the LA Times in an interview at the time that he thought it possible that various members of the two buses recognized each other. "Like they've known each other from some prior run-in possibly."

Lawsuit over Party Bus Shooting

The lawsuit alleges that the police lay de la Cruz on the ground and rendered her no aid. It also claims the bus passengers were not allowed to use the police station restroom and were told to sit on the ground so their photos could be taken, "as if they were criminals."

In addition, the plaintiffs claim that Lion Limousine should have known the bus driver was incompetent or unfit to drive.

The plaintiffs include the deceased woman's mother, Tomeika, her brother, Alex de la Cruz, sister-in-law, Gin Chhouk, and her two-year-old daughter. Also suing are five passengers from the bus, Tiffany Fleming, D'Juan Darby, Christian Green, Eboni Cox, and Cindy Hodges. The passengers claim they have suffered emotional distress from witnessing their friend's death.

No arrests have been made regarding the November 3 shooting.

 

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