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Shonda Rhimes supports Grey's Anatomy crew member amid racial profiling lawsuit

Shonda Rhimes supports Grey's Anatomy crew member amid racial profiling lawsuit
/ © Cover Media

Shonda Rhimes has thrown her support behind a Grey's Anatomy driver over an alleged racial profiling incident which took place last year.

Ernest Simon Jr. filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department, LAPD chief Michel Moore and unnamed LAPD officers on Thursday over the incident, which allegedly took place in March 2021 when the crew of the medical drama were filming on location in Tarzana, California.

The driver, a Disney employee, was allegedly pulled over by officers who drew their guns and accused him of stealing the production van and allegedly held him at gunpoint on the floor for 20 minutes, despite colleagues trying to intervene.

"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," the complaint reads. "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 co-workers for simply being a Black man in the wrong neighborhood."

Simon is seeking $20 million (£15.2 million) in damages for racial profiling, unreasonable search and seizure, assault, false arrest and false imprisonment, excessive force, and negligence, among other claims. He has demanded a jury trial.

Addressing the incident, Grey's Anatomy creator Rhimes told Deadline, "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. (Her production company) Shondaland stands with Mr. Simon and his family in this complaint."

Representatives for production company ABC Signature, a subsidiary of Disney, stated that they filed a request for an investigation with the LAPD at the time and "were disappointed to learn that no action was taken and support Mr. Simon in his complaint".

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