LAPD officers fired for ignoring robbery to catch rare Pokémon

An illustration of Pokemon Go
The pair said they had only been discussing the game, but were found to have lied. Photo credit: Getty Images

Two Los Angeles police officers have lost their appeal after being fired for playing Pokémon Go instead of responding to an armed robbery.

The duo were originally dismissed in 2017 after failing to respond to a request for backup at a robbery at a nearby Macy's. An investigation found they ignored the call and went to capture a rare Snorlax Pokémon instead.

New details of the case have become available after a judge in California rejected their appeal.

Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell's patrol car was first noticed by Captain Darnell Davenport when he responded to the robbery in progress and asked for backup.

The officers' supervisor for the day, Sergeant Jose Gomez, tried to contact them by radio but there was no response.

Court documents state that Davenport then assumed the car was from either a traffic unit or a unit from another division, but that turned out not to be the case.

Gomez quizzed the pair later in the day with Mitchell stating there "was a lot of music" and it was "really loud in the park", meaning they weren't able to hear the announcement.

Initially their supervisor accepted that explanation but was "uneasy" when he came into work the next day and so decided to look at camera recordings from their vehicle.

Gomez found they had not only heard the call to help out, but had discussed it and decided not to help Davenport at the robbery.

Just five minutes after Lozano had said "screw it" instead of replying to the support call, Mitchell told his partner a Snorlax had popped up nearby. They then discussed the best way to get to the location.

"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," the court documents state.

On their way to the Snorlax location, Mitchell then told Lozano that a "Togetic just popped up".

After apparently catching the Snorlax, the pair agreed to head off and try to catch the Togetic too.

The court documents describe how Lozano said he "buried it and ultra-balled" the Togetic before announcing "got him". Mitchell was having less luck.

"Holy crap, man. This thing is fighting the crap out of me." 

Eventually he was successful.

"Holy crap. Finally. The guys are going to be so jealous," he said.

When confronted with the new evidence the officers said they had been merely discussing the game after receiving text messages from a group of players where people were "bragging about their scores", but the investigating officer ruled that was a lie.

They were eventually found unanimously guilty on five of the six charges against them, including lying to investigating officers and failing to respond to the robbery.

The board found Mitchell and Lozano were "disingenuous and deceitful in their remarks throughout the board hearing" and they had "demonstrated a severe negative attitude and disdain towards Captain Davenport' as well as "violated the trust of the public".

The recommendation that they should be fired was accepted by the LAPD.

Judge J Windham, in his appeal decision, said that "substantial evidence supports the trial court's finding" and denied it, awarding costs to the city and the chief of police.