'Grey's Anatomy' Crew Member Sues LAPD for $20M, Alleging Unlawful Racial Profiling Led to False Arrest, Assault

Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes said the alleged incident was “beyond unacceptable”

grey's anatomy
Photo: John Dvorak/Shutterstock

A Grey's Anatomy crew member filed a federal lawsuit for $20 million against the Los Angeles Police Department and city of L.A. for allegedly racially profiling and assaulting him while he was working on the set of the drama series.

Disney employee Ernest Simon Jr. is accusing the police officers of initiating "an unwarranted, unjustified, and unlawful 'high risk' traffic stop at his place of work," according to court documents filed on Thursday and obtained by PEOPLE on Friday.

Multiple officers allegedly forced Simon "to lie prone on an asphalt lot at gunpoint for over 20 minutes, using an overwhelming and unjustified show of force," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states that "given that there was no reason to suspect Mr. Simon of committing any crime or traffic violation, the decision to pursue Mr. Simon — based solely on the fact that he was an African American male lawfully driving in the predominantly white neighborhood of Tarzana, California — constitutes racial profiling and discrimination in violation of Mr. Simon's rights under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and California law."

Simon's job entails driving crew members and talent between the Grey's Anatomy's filming location and the production's base camp in Tarzana, Calif., the document states.

At the entrance of the production site, the officers were informed by security that Simon was an employee and he was driving a company car, according to the lawsuit. The officers allegedly proceeded to enter the area and approached Simon with their guns drawn.

Instead of heeding those pleas from crew members, the officers allegedly yelled at them to "get out of the line of fire," according to the lawsuit.

Stephen G. Larson, co-lead counsel for Simon, called LADP's alleged actions "wrongful and illegal" in a statement.

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Larson said Simon was in "fear that he was about to be shot at his workplace in front of his co-workers for simply being a Black man in the wrong neighborhood."

"This lawsuit seeks to right those severe wrongs inflicted upon our client," he added. "But it also addresses a larger issue — accountability for the persistent and systematic mistreatment of Black people at the hands of police in Los Angeles and across the country."

A spokesperson for the LAPD declined PEOPLE's request for comment while the lawsuit is pending.

Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes said the alleged incident was "unacceptable."

"It was another example of a broken system that puts valuable lives in danger and damages spirits," she told PEOPLE. "Shondaland stands with Mr. Simon and his family in this complaint."

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