A shuttle driver for TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy” is suing the city of Los Angeles and members of its police force, alleging in federal court that he was racially profiled and held at gunpoint for no good reason during a traffic stop, according to the lawsuit, obtained Friday.
Ernest Simon Jr. alleges he was stopped in March 2021 by Los Angeles Police Department officers in Tarzana while at the wheel of a rented Ford van used by the show’s production and was told by officers that a license plate reader had linked the plates of the vehicle to a stolen BMW sedan, according to the suit for civil rights violations filed Thursday in Los Angeles.
According to Simon, who is Black, police became suspicious of him even before the license plate reader delivered the incorrect results because of his race.
An LAPD spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.
The complaint alleges that after Simon was pulled over, seven “speeding squad cars” arrived and LAPD officers forced him 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 co-workers for simply being a Black man in the wrong neighborhood.”
Simon contends that when a fellow “Grey’s Anatomy” crew member, also Black, tried to tell officers that the man they had at gunpoint was a co-worker, he was ignored until a white colleague spoke up — and Simon was allowed to get up off the ground, the suit says.
The lawsuit alleges unreasonable search and seizure, racial profiling and excessive force, as well as a failure on the part of the city to properly train officers. It is seeking $20 million in damages.