LOS ANGELES (WNCN) – Two Los Angeles police officers were discharged for ignoring a nearby robbery call at a mall so they could chase down Pokemon in Pokemon Go, according to newly released court documents.
The incident happened on April 15, 2017. The two officers, Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell, were partners on a foot beat patrol. A call came in for a robbery in progress at a Macy’s store in Crenshaw Mall in Los Angeles.
When the call came in, a captain could see the store from where he was. He noticed a police car in a nearby alley, the court documents said.
When the unit didn’t respond to the call, he assumed it might be a traffic unit or one from a different division on a different frequency. The captain decided to respond to the call. At the same time, he saw the police vehicle leave the alley, the documents said.
A sergeant working the watch commander’s office described the ensuing minutes as “chaotic.” He noticed the captain responding and saw that Mitchell and Lozano were located nearby, as well. He tried to radio the two and request them to respond, too, but received no response, documents said.
The sergeant met with Lozano and Mitchell later that night. They said they had not heard the call. The sergeant realized after reviewing dashcam video from their patrol vehicle that they heard the radio call about the robbery in progress, discussed it, and opted to conceal that they had decided not to respond to it, the documents said.
A detective conducting the internal investigation listened to the dashcam recording carefully a number of times. The detective became concerned that Mitchell and Lozano were playing Pokemon Go while on duty the day of the robbery, the documents said.
Shortly after the two were recorded discussing checking with communications about the robbery call, the dashcam caught Mitchell alerting Lozano that a Snorlax had “just popped up.” The two discussed routes to get to it and how much time they had to do so, court records said.
Then, for the next 20 minutes or so, the dashcam captured Mitchell and Lozano talking about Pokemon as they drove to different locations. Mitchell pointed out to Lozano when a Togetic popped up on the way to the Snorlax location, the documents said.
“Don’t run away. Don’t run away,” Mitchell is heard saying. “Got him.”
“Holy crap, man. This thing is fighting the crap out of me,” Michell said. “Holy crap. Finally.”
They initially denied playing the game.
Lozano and Mitchell were both discharged following a hearing, the documents said. They appealed, arguing that the conversations captured on dashcam video were private and that discharging them was too harsh a punishment given the circumstances.
They lost their appeal.