Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchel, former police officers for the City of Los Angeles, filed a petition against the city of LA last week for being fired in 2017 after they were found to have ignored an ongoing robbery call in order to attempt to catch a Snorlax and other Pokemon in the mobile game Pokemon Go. The officers claimed that the city acted improperly by using in-car recordings of them during the disciplinary process. The court denied their petition.
According to the appeal court judgment published on Friday of last week, Apr. 15, 2017, the LAPD received a call of a robbery in progress at a Macy's in the Crenshaw Mall. According to testimony from LAPD Seargent Gomez, he answered the call, and called for backup, with Lazano and Mitchel not responding. Gomez sought further information from the officers after the events of the call, who claimed they had not heard his call for backup due to being in a loud area of the city.
Gomez instituted a review of the in-car recording of the officers, finding that they had heard the radio call and even discussed whether or not to respond and assist LAPD Captain Davenport with the robbery situation. Further reviews of the recordings by detectives found that the two officers were playing Pokemon Go, and were pursuing a Snorlax on 46th and Leimert, instead of doing their jobs. They also reportedly spotted a Togetic, which they successfully captured, unlike the suspects that they were supposed to be pursuing.
The two were ultimately fired for:
- Failing to respond to the robbery call
- Making misleading statements to their sergeant
- Failing to respond over radio when their unit was called
- Failing to handle an assigned radio call
- Play Pokemon Go while on patrol
- Making false statements to Detective McClanahan during the investigation
According to the appeal, a board of rights found that the two officers were guilty of multiple counts of misconduct listed above, with the board using in-car video to confirm that the officers "willfully abdicated their duty to assist a commanding officer's response to a robbery in progress and playing a Pokemon mobile game while on duty." The officers claim that the city violated the law by using the in-car recording in the proceedings and by denying protections afforded to officers by the POBRA act, which afford specific rights to peace officers. The court disagreed with their claims, so they will remain fired.
The petitioners also denied playing Pokemon GO, arguing they were simply monitoring the Pokemon Tracker application on their phones. Lozano reportedly claimed that he was just capturing an image of the pokemon via a companion app and that when they referred to "fighting" the Togetic, they really "meant relaying information to the groups on [their] app." However, the two admitted to leaving their beat area to search for a Snorlax, according to the judgment.
In the judgment, the court found that the city properly used the car recordings in the disciplinary proceedings and that Sergeant Gomez's questioning did not violate the petitioner's rights under the POBRA act.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.