The California court ruled on Tuesday, Jan 11, 2022, that two LAPD cops who refused to respond to a robbery at a neighbouring Macy’s in order to catch Pokemon have failed in their bid to have their firings overturned.
The petitioners, Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell, former police officers for the city of Los Angeles, were fired in 2017 after they were found to have ignored a commanding officer’s request for assistance in handling an in-progress robbery at a nearby Macy’s.
Lozano and Mitchell were on foot patrol on Apr 15, 2017, in the Crenshaw neighbourhood, in what their supervisors termed a busy Saturday.
Calls began coming in about a robbery at a Macy’s, with multiple suspects, and Lozano and Mitchell were asked to drive to the area and join the response but failed to reply. Sergeant Jose Gomez, their patrol supervisor, asked the pair later that day why they failed to respond, and they said that they hadn’t heard the calls.
However, Gomez found their replies suspicious and found out that the pair heard the calls, and discussed whether or not to attend.
In fact, the pair were discussing Pokemon and the best route to the scene while on shift. The two left the area in the hopes of capturing Snorlaxes and Togetics in Pokémon Go.
The officers were fired from the LAPD after this decision, which was caught on camera by the digital in-car video system (DICVS) dashcam, as well as attempts to lie about their activities.
‘A board of rights found petitioners guilty on multiple counts of misconduct, based in part on a digital in-car video system (DICVS) recording that captured petitioners willfully abdicating their duty to assist a commanding officer’s response to a robbery in progress and playing a Pokémon mobile phone game while on duty,’ the court ruled.
According to Axios’ Stephen Totilo, the two former policemen filed an appeal to overturn the judgment, alleging that the audio made in the squad car should not have been utilized in the case against them.
A report from the court documents reveal,
“For approximately the next 20 minutes, the DICVS (in-car recording) capture petitioners discussing Pokemon as they drove to different locations where the virtual creatures apparently appeared on their mobile phones. On their way to the Snorlax location, Officer Mitchell alerted Officer Lozano that “a Togetic just popped up,” noting it was “on Crenshaw, just South of 50th.”
Additionally, the pair insisted in disciplinary hearings that they had merely been discussing the game and challenged Los Angeles city’s dismissal.
California’s court of appeals, however, did not believe their explanations and upheld their firings. They lost the appeal on Jan 7, 2022.
The officers were charged with six counts of on-duty misconduct, including failing to respond to a robbery-in-progress call, playing Pokemon Go while on patrol, and making false statements to during the investigation.
Greg Yacoubian, an attorney for the officers, said on Monday, Jan 10, 2022, they ‘obviously are disappointed’ in the ruling and were ‘considering how to proceed.’