Two LAPD officers ignored a call for backup in favor of trying to catch ‘em all in Pokémon Go, according to recently published court documents.
The officers — Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell — were subsequently fired for their transgression, though it was only the suspicion of a senior officer that led to them being found out.
The incident occurred in April 2017 but gained widespread publicity this month following a legal attempt to have the two men reinstated in their jobs. The California judge denied their appeal.
Lozano and Mitchell were sitting in their patrol car when a call came through for backup at a robbery taking place at nearby Crenshaw Mall, according to court documents. Instead of responding, the pair drove off to another location.
Quizzed later about why they hadn’t gone to assist, the officers said they couldn’t hear their radio because they’d been parked in a noisy area.
Skeptical of the explanation, a senior officer checked the vehicle’s DICVS (digital in-car video system). He discovered that the men had not only heard the call but seemed more interested in playing Pokémon Go than doing their job.
Shortly after receiving the call for backup, “Officer Mitchell alerted Lozano that Snorlax ‘just popped up’ at 46th and Leimert,” the court documents said, with the policemen then discussing the best way to get to it.
“Mitchell suggested a different route, then told Lozano, ‘We got four minutes.’ For approximately the next 20 minutes, the DICVS captured [Lozano and Mitchell] discussing Pokémon Go 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.’”
Mitchell reportedly caught the Snorlax, exclaiming, “got ‘em” as he did so, after which the pair turned their attention to the Togetic.
The court documents go on to reveal how Lozano said he’d “buried it and ultra-balled” the Togetic before announcing, “Got him.”
In their appeal, Lozano and Mitchell argued that the LAPD had violated their privacy by listening to their private conversations, but the judge rejected the claim.
The incident occurred at the height of the Pokémon Go craze that erupted in the months following the game’s launch in the summer of 2016.
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