The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) released video footage showing two officers playing “Pokémon Go” in their squad car after ignoring a robbery call in 2017.
The video: In the roughly three-hour video, officers Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell can be heard talking about catching a character in the augmented reality mobile game. For more than 20 minutes, the officers can be heard discussing fictional characters of the game as they drive to different locations where they were known to appear.
“It’s nice to have more Pokeballs and have the potions,” one officer says.
The incident took place in the Crenshaw area on April 15, 2017, which department officials described as a busy day, according to the Los Angeles Times. The officers were parked near the robbery scene when they ignored the call.
The officers’ termination: This incident led to the termination of Lozano and Mitchell in 2018, as they were found to have violated department policy and lied about their actions. The officers initially denied playing “Pokémon Go,” claiming that they did not hear the call as they were engaging with community members at a park with loud music. However, dashcam footage from their squad car revealed otherwise.
In a recorded conversation, Lozano was also captured saying, “I don’t want to be his help,” when an LAPD captain requested for backup in a robbery at the Crenshaw Mall Macy’s store.
Appealing the termination: Lozano and Mitchell appealed their terminations, arguing that the department infringed on their right to privacy by using the dashcam recording as evidence and that they were improperly interviewed without legal representation.
However, they were unsuccessful in the California Court of Appeal, who noted that the LAPD’s firings were justified.
Disciplinary hearings: The officers faced multiple counts of misconduct, including failing to respond to a robbery call and making misleading statements during an internal investigation. In their disciplinary hearings, the LAPD presented 16 exhibits that included evidence related to the language used in “Pokémon Go.”
While the officers admitted guilt in not responding to the radio call, they denied playing the game, alternatively claiming that they were searching for a fictional character as part of a “social media event” and as part of an “extra patrol” to “chase this mythical creature.”
The disciplinary boards unanimously ruled against the officers, noting that they were “disingenuous and deceitful in their remarks” to investigators. According to court documents, their decision to play the game while on duty was also seen as a violation of public trust and considered “unprofessional and embarrassing behavior.”