Robbery in Progress, Cops Opted to Play Pokemon Go

Fired LAPD officers, caught playing on dashcam instead of responding to a call, lose appeal
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2022 9:20 AM CST
Cops Said 'Screw It' to Catching Perps, Caught Pokemon Instead
In this July 22, 2016 file photo, a Pokemon Go player attempts to catch a Charmander character in New Delhi, India.   (AP Photo/Thomas Cytrynowicz)

A California judge has refused to reinstate two former Los Angeles police officers who chose to play Pokemon Go rather than respond to a robbery in progress. The officers, Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell, had ignored a commanding officer's request for backup during a robbery at the Crenshaw Mall in April 2017 so as to play the mobile game, which was then all the rage, reports the Verge. Their squad car was near the mall when the call went out, but then left the area, prompting questions from a supervisor. The pair reportedly claimed they couldn't hear their radio due to noise. But their dashcam recorded the officers blatantly ignoring the request.

"I don't want to be his help," Lozano allegedly said, per USA Today. "Aw, screw it." For the next 20 minutes, the camera "captured petitioners discussing Pokemon as they drove to different locations where the virtual creatures apparently appeared on their mobile phones," according to the Friday ruling from the California Court of Appeal. After catching a Snorlax Pokemon, Mitchell apparently nabbed a Togetic, commenting that "the guys are going to be so jealous." Both officers were subsequently fired, though they complained that they were questioned without legal or labor representation and argued the department improperly used footage of their private conversation, per the Los Angeles Times.

Upholding a lower court ruling, the judge found the department's use of the video was justified. Indeed, "it would be preposterous to require commanding officers and internal affairs investigators to ignore evidence of 'criminal or egregious misconduct' simply because it was unintentionally captured." The judge also found the supervisor who questioned the officers before any misconduct was known was just doing their job. Court records add the officers chose to play the game on a busy day for the department, with "more calls than police cars available to respond." The officers' lawyer says they are "disappointed" and "considering how to proceed," per the Times. (More Los Angeles Police Department stories.)

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