LAPD Officers Fired For Ignoring Robbery To Play Pokémon Go Denied Appeal

Photo: KeongDaGreat / Matt Gush / Shutterstock
Los Angeles police officers, Pokemon Go

Two Los Angeles police officers were fired in 2017 after ignoring a robbery in progress to play the augmented reality game Pokémon Go, according to court documents.

Former officers Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell were called to respond to a robbery with “multiple suspects” at a Macy’s in the Crenshaw Mall, but didn’t answer to radio calls.

Instead of providing help to fellow officers who had requested backup at the crime scene, Lozano and Mitchell left the area to hunt a Snorlax and a Togetic, Pokémon characters in the mobile game.

An investigation of video and audio evidence showed that Mitchell and Lozano had discussed responding to the robbery but decided against it.

Mitchell and Lozano can be heard saying that a “Snorlax … just popped up … at 46th and Leimert,” as the two conversed on how to best catch the Pokémon character.

Earlier this month, more than four years after Lozano and Mitchell were fired from the LAPD, a California judge denied their appeal for reinstatement.

The LAPD officers were denied reinstatement after the Pokémon Go incident.

At the time of the incident in April 2017, several other officers had departed a homicide scene in order to respond to the robbery call.

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Lozano and Mitchell ignored the request and drove down an alley, lying to their patrol supervisor that they hadn’t heard the call on the radio because they had been in a loud area, according to documents.

The patrol supervisor then checked the dashcam in Lozano and Mithcell’s police vehicle, and found that the officers did hear the request but left the area after discussing not wanting to respond to the call.

The supervisor reported the incident and a formal investigation was conducted.

“For approximately the next 20 minutes, [the dash-cam] captured [Mitchell and Lozano] discussing Pokémon as they drove to different locations where the virtual creatures apparently appeared on their mobile phones,” the court documents said. 

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“On their way to the Snorlax location, Officer Mitchell alerted Officer Lozano that ‘a Togetic just popped up,’” referring to the Pokémon characters.

After Mitchell caught the Snorlax, he reportedly exclaimed, “Got ‘em!” before the officers drove off to find the second Pokémon.

"Holy crap, man. This thing is fighting the crap out of me," Mitchell said, according to court documents. "Holy crap. Finally …. the guys are going to be so jealous." 

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When Lozano and Mitchell were confronted by their superiors, both men reportedly denied that they had been playing Pokémon Go, claiming that they were just having a conversation about it.

The two men also tried to argue that the game was not actually a game, but a “social media event,” and that they were simply catching “images” of Pokémon and not playing a “game.”

In court filings, the city wrote that the board of rights, which fired the two officers, said that “playing Pokémon Go showed complete disregard for the community, wasted resources, violated public trust and was unprofessional and embarrassing to the Department.” 

The filings also said that the officers lied and therefore “their behavior reflected gross negligence, cowardice, lack of thoughtfulness and deceit.”

The former officers eventually admitted to leaving their patrol area to hunt for the Pokémon characters, but claimed they did so to provide “extra patro,” as well as to “chase this mythical creature.”

In the appeal of their case, Lozano and Mitchell argued that the dashcam in their police vehicle is not meant to be used as a monitoring system for officers “private conversations.”

However, Los Angeles County Judge Mary H. Strobel called their defense “flawed” and decidedly ruled against their appeal.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.