Los Angeles, CA — Over the years, TFTP has reported on multiple instances of cops ignoring calls for various reasons. But LAPD officers Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell become the first cops on which we’ve reported who ignored calls because they chose to play video games instead of responding to a robbery call in progress. As innocent citizens waited for their security force to show up — who they are forced to pay for — Lozano and Mitchell were catching Snorlax in Pokemon Go.
The cops were never charged for betraying the community’s trust, but they were actually fired. For the last three years, they have been fighting for their jobs back. On Friday, however, a rare instance of logic happened within the Los Angeles justice system, and an appellate court ruled that they deserved to be fired and will not be rehired.
According to court records, the officers filed a petition for writ of administrative mandate challenging the City’s decision to terminate their employment. A board of rights found the officers guilty on multiple counts of misconduct, based in part on a digital in-car video system (DICVS) recording that captured them 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 incident unfolded on April 15, 2017, as a robbery took place right next to the officers’ patrol route. A fellow officer put out a Code 6 broadcast asking for backup and instead of doing their job an fighting crime. The officers ignored the call, allowing the robbery suspect to continue unabated.
When their supervisor questioned them the following day as to why they didn’t respond to the call, both Mitchell and Lozano told him that they could not hear the call as the music nearby was too loud.
That supervisor, identified in court records as Sgt. Gomez, didn’t believe the two officers so he pulled the video from their patrol vehicle to find out what really happened.
According to court records, the officers were recorded discussing their response to the call and instead of helping to stop a crime, Lozano responded, “Aw, screw it,” before the officers took to “catching them all.”
at approximately 6:09 p.m. (just five minutes after Officer Lozano said “screw it” to checking in with communications about the robbery call), Officer Mitchell alerted Lozano that “Snorlax” “just popped up” at “46th and Leimert.”3 After noting that “Leimert doesn’t go all the way to 46th,” Lozano responded, “Oh, you [know] what I can do? I’ll [go] down 11th and swing up on Crenshaw. I know that way I can get to it.” Mitchell suggested a different route, then told Lozano, “We got four minutes.”
For approximately the next 20 minutes, the DICVS captured petitioners discussing Pokémon 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 “[o]n Crenshaw
As the two officers caught fictional video game characters, the real robbers at Macy’s were not caught. Eventually the two officers were fired but they appealed the decision, claiming that listening to the recording of them in their vehicle was a violation of their privacy.
In court filings, the officials noted that “playing Pokémon Go showed complete disregard for the community, wasted resources, violated public trust and was unprofessional and embarrassing to the Department.” It also said that the officers lied, and thus “Their behavior reflected gross negligence, cowardice, lack of thoughtfulness and deceit.”