Los Angeles Police Department officers Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell recently appealed to get their jobs back after being fired. Why? Because they were playing Pokémon Go on duty. While simultaneously ignoring a call from other police asking for backup during an active robbery.
The court opinion document from the case is pretty wild. It details the crazy events of that day, attempts to explain why the two didn’t think they were ‘doing anything wrong.’ Mitchell and Lozano claim they were participating in a “social media event” rather than “playing a game.” As if that was a better excuse for ignoring an active call? And, they only admitted to it after their superior officer presented them with evidence.
An officer responded to a robbery call at the Crenshaw Mall, and saw a police unit nearby when a call for backup was made. Captain Davenport thought it was maybe a traffic unit, explaining why they weren’t responding. Sergeant Gomez, commanding officer, figured something didn’t add up. He was in the watch commander’s office when he noticed that his unit (Lozano and Mitchell) was nearby enough to answer as an onsite code 6, and didn’t.
Gomez radioed to them, but got no reply. Later, he met them at a 7-Eleven where they were doing an investigation. To clear up any technical issues or miscommunications, he asked about their failure to respond to the earlier call. One said he simply did not hear it. The other said that he did, but thought Captain Davenport answered, so they didn’t think they needed to respond. They also claimed due to excessive noise where they were patrolling, the radio was “too hard to hear.” Sergeant Gomez instructed them to move to an area where they could hear in the future.
In his testimony to the board of rights, the Sergeant explained: “At that point, my understanding was that the [robbery] call wasn’t heard because they were at the park. And like I said, I could not dispute that.”Court Documents
Still feeling uneasy about it, Gomez decided he should review the in-car recording system.
Sergeant Gomez’s review of the DICVS recording revealed new and disturbing facts:Court Documents
It had been petitioners’ patrol unit that Captain Davenport saw in the alley only a short distance from the mall; petitioners did hear the radio call about a robbery in progress; they discussed the call and whether they should assist Captain Davenport; and they went Code 6 on the Crenshaw Corridor to conceal that they had decided not to respond to the call.
The car audio proved that they not only disregarded the call, but were gaming for over 20 minutes while on duty. Here is part of what the official report said:
On their way to the Snorlax location, Officer Mitchell alerted Officer Lozano that “a Togetic just popped up,” noting it was “[o]n Crenshaw, just South of 50th. After Mitchell apparently caught the Snorlax— exclaiming, “Got ’em”—petitioners agreed to “[g]o get the Togetic” and drove off. When their car stopped again, the DICVS recorded Mitchell saying, “Don’t run away. Don’t run away,” while Lozano described how he “buried it and ultra-balled” the Togetic before announcing, “Got him.” Mitchell advised he was “[s]till trying to catch it,” adding, “Holy crap, man. This thing is fighting the crap out of me.” Eventually Mitchell exclaimed, “Holy Crap. Finally,” apparently in reference to capturing the Togetic, and he remarked, “The[ ] guys are going to be so jealous.” Petitioners then agreed to return to the 7-Eleven (where Sergeant Gomez later met them) to end their watch. On the way, Mitchell remarked, “I got you a new Pokémon today, dude.”
The officers admitted to leaving their foot beat area in search of Snorlax, but insisted they did so as part of an “extra patrol,” and “to chase this mythical creature.”
Their appeal has been denied.