*An employee with the Walt Disney Company has filed a $20 million dollar lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department for racial profiling.
According to legal documents obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Ernest Simon Jr., who is Black, was working on a location shoot for “Grey’s Anatomy” in Tarzana, California as a driver for the series’ production crew. Simon claims he was stopped by police on suspicion of stealing the Ford van he was driving.
The involved officers reportedly mistakenly matched the plates of the van with a BMW sedan that was reported missing.
Per the lawsuit that was filed Thursday in federal court: “[…] Mr. Simon—a thirty-one year old African American male—was targeted by LAPD police officers who, without any legal justification, initiated a racially motivated “high risk” traffic stop. Multiple LAPD police officers then forced Mr. Simon to lie prone on an asphalt lot at gunpoint for over 20 minutes, using an overwhelming and unjustified show of force against Mr. Simon that caused him to legitimately (and understandably) fear that he was going to be shot at his workplace in front of his coworkers for simply being a Black man in the wrong neighborhood.”
The lawsuit states the police ignored several witnesses who tried to explain that Simon was a member of the crew.
“Instead of heeding those pleas, Doe Officer Defendants yelled at the crewmembers to ‘get out of the line of fire,’ which only increased Mr. Simon’s legitimate fear for his life as he lay surrounded by at least eight LAPD officers pointing their guns in his direction,” the complaint read. “[…] The only conceivable reason that Doe Officer Defendants had to draw their firearms was based on their racial profiling of Mr. Simon. Given that Mr. Simon was unarmed and fully cooperative, there simply were no facts to support a reasonable belief that deadly force may be justified.”
The involved officers, per the complaint, demonstrated “malice and reckless indifference to Mr. Simon’s rights”. Simon accuses the department of failing “to take any meaningful action to either hold those officers accountable or to give Mr. Simon even a semblance of justice.”
Simon is suing the City of Los Angeles, the two unnamed officers, and LAPD Chief of Police Michel Moore for $20 million, per the report.
“What happened to Mr. Simon was beyond unacceptable. It was another example of a broken system that puts valuable lives in danger and damages spirits,” said “Grey’s Anatomy” creator Shonda Rhimes. “Shondaland stands with Mr. Simon and his family in this complaint.”
Simon is seeking a jury trial.