Two LAPD officers chased Pokémon instead of responding to a robbery call. A court just upheld their firings. – The Washington Post

Called on to help with a robbery involving multiple suspects, two Los Angeles police officers were in hot pursuit.
Their target had popped up seemingly out of nowhere. In a patrol car, the officers snaked through the neighborhood, closing in. When they came upon their prey, the officers pounced but got more than they expected.
“This thing is fighting the crap out of me,” one said to the other.
Eventually, the officers wrangled the subject. Afterward, one of them crowed, imagining the envy of their peers.
“The … guys are going to be so jealous.”
A few minutes later, he couldn’t help but brag again.
“I got you a new Pokémon today, dude.”
The two officers, Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell, had ignored the call to respond to the robbery at a nearby Macy’s on April 15, 2017, according to newly released court documents. Instead, the two spent roughly 20 minutes driving around hunting a Snorlax — a humongous creature described in court documents as “the Sleeping Pokémon” — that had appeared on their phones in “Pokémon Go,” an augmented-reality video game in which creatures pop up in everyday places and players seek to catch them.
The two officers were fired, a decision an appeals court upheld on Friday after Lozano and Mitchell challenged their terminations.
The Los Angeles Police Department declined to comment on the court’s decision when contacted by The Washington Post. The officers’ lawyer, Greg Yacoubian, told The Post that Lozano and Mitchell were disappointed by the ruling and are considering what, if any, actions they might take in the future, including appealing to the state Supreme Court.
Yacoubian said the department failed to notify the officers they were being investigated for misconduct in a timely manner, as required by state law. He also argued that the LAPD shouldn’t have been able to use the dashboard-camera video inside the officers’ cruiser as evidence because it was capturing what Yacoubian described as “private communications.”
The appeals court rejected those arguments.
April 15, 2017, was a busy Saturday in the LAPD’s southwest division, where Lozano and Mitchell were assigned to patrol the neighborhood. While on his way to a homicide scene, Capt. Darnell Davenport heard a radio call for a robbery in progress at a nearby Macy’s department store involving multiple suspects. He called for backup.
Lozano and Mitchell heard him, according to court records, although they would later tell their patrol supervisor they hadn’t. Using the dash-cam footage from Lozano and Mitchell’s patrol car, the supervisor would learn that, in actuality, they decided to ignore Davenport’s request for backup.
“I don’t want to be his help,” Lozano said in the dash-cam video, later adding “screw it.”
The dash-cam footage also captured the officers’ feverish hunt for Pokémon.
A few minutes after court records say they blew off the call, Mitchell told Lozano that a Snorlax had appeared nearby on the “Pokémon Go” app. In 2017, Snorlax was “among the rarest Pokémon” and a fan-favorite, which may explain why court records show the officers spent the next roughly 20 minutes talking about Pokémon as they drove to different locations where the virtual creatures were showing up on their cellphones.
On the way to capture the Snorlax, Mitchell told Lozano another Pokémon had appeared — a Togetic, which will reveal itself to “kindhearted, caring people and shower them with happiness,” according to the Pokémon website.
After doing so, the two officers returned to a 7-Eleven they’d visited earlier in their shift and met up with Sgt. Jose Gomez, their patrol supervisor that day. When Gomez questioned them about the robbery, they told him they hadn’t heard Davenport’s request for backup while they were busy responding to another call.
Gomez suspected something was up. He reviewed their patrol car’s dash-cam footage, which revealed they’d blown off Davenport, court records show. Gomez’s discovery went up the chain of command and led to the misconduct investigation that would culminate in Lozano and Mitchell getting fired.


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