Two LA Cops Denied Appeal Over Being Fired for Hunting Pokémon Monsters During Active Robbery
Two Los Angeles Police Department officers, Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell, had been fired in 2017 for purposefully ignoring a radio call about an ongoing crime and request for backup, instead proceeding to hunt virtual monsters in the mobile game Pokémon GO.
Two Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers who were fired in 2017 for ignoring a commanding officer’s request for backup during a robbery-in-progress, opting to play Pokémon Go on their mobile phones instead, have failed in their bids to be reinstated.
According to court documents published on 7 January, former LAPD officers Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell, on a foot beat patrol in the department’s Southwest division in April 2017, had ignored their supervisor, Sergeant Jose Gomez’s radio request for backup. On the day in question, a robbery had been in progress with multiple suspects at the Crenshaw Mall.
When Gomez later met with the officers, according to the appeal, they claimed they did not hear the radio call as they were at a park where loud music was playing.
© AP Photo / Alan Diaz, FilePokemon Go players
Pokemon Go players
© AP Photo / Alan Diaz, File
However, recordings from the officers’ digital in-car video system (DICVS) later revealed that the officers, despite being close to the mall during the robbery, had purposefully ignored the radio call from their commanding officer. The two men had put out a radio code in a different area from where they actually were.
“I don’t want to be his help,” Lozano allegedly told Mitchell in response to the call. Minutes later, Mitchell is described as telling Lozano that “Snorlax,” a Pokémon in the mobile game, “just popped up” at “46th and Leimert”.
According to court documents, for 20 minutes the former officers were "discussing Pokémon as they drove to different locations where the virtual creatures apparently appeared on their mobile phones".
When questioned during the misconduct investigation, Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell claimed they were only “having a conversation about Pokémon Go” and not playing the game.
29 October 2019, 23:27 GMT
Later, during their board of rights hearing, they admitted leaving their patrol area to search for the Pokémon Snorlax, claiming they did so as part of an “extra patrol” and to “chase this mythical creature”.
After the officers were terminated from employment with LAPD for “criminal or egregious misconduct”, they appealed their case, arguing the in-car video footage presented as evidence was inadmissible, as it was made up of “private conversations”.
“Petitioners also asserted discharge was ‘too harsh’ a penalty under the circumstances,” stated the appeal, denied on 7 January.