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LAPD Officers Lose Appeal After Being Fired For Ignoring An Active Robbery To Play Pokémon Go

LAPD Officers Lose Appeal After Being Fired For Ignoring An Active Robbery To Play Pokémon Go
Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Two Los Angeles police officers who were fired in 2017 for ignoring a robbery to play Pokémon Go have lost their court appeal for reinstatement.

Officers Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell were stationed near a robbery at a Macy's at the Crenshaw Mall in 2017 when responding officers called for backup.

But rather than respond or report to the scene of the crime, the two officers were captured by their squad car video camera "moving backwards through the alley and turned away from the mall" according to the court ruling.

Their reason for ignoring the call?

Pokémon Go, the highly addictive game for smartphones which challenges players to locate various Pokémon characters using their GPS.

NBC News reported on the bizarre story.

The dashboard camera on their car reportedly captured the two officers discussing Pokémon Go for 20 minutes or so as they went in search of "Snorlaxs" and "Togetics" rather than help their fellow officers apprehend robbers.

When later asked why they failed to respond to the call by their supervisor, they cited the extreme noise in their surroundings, which they claimed made it prohibitively hard to hear their radios.

But their excuse was quickly debunked by their supervisor after he watched the dashcam footage, which captured Lozano and Mitchell ignoring the call and fleeing the scene.

Viewers of NBC's report of the incident on YouTube were in disbelief at the story.

Many couldn't help but laugh at this admittedly unbelievable scenario.

"I bet the officers will respond more promptly if Team Rocket stole some kids Pokémon."- PsyQoBoy

"This is not what the chief meant when he said, 'now get out there and catch'em all!!'"- Tiggertron

"The jokes on police officers when I was a kid is that police officers were too busy eating donuts at Dunkin Donuts , instead of catching criminals.2022, the joke is are too busy playing Pokémon instead of catching criminals."- cigarfeeler

"Wait until meta time. You're going to see cops floating around."- Mason Kungle

"I guess Snorlax had the last laugh."- Boshwaggle Boskolsson

Others, however, didn't find the issue to be such a laughing matter, with some expressing their horror that two on duty police officers could be so cavalier on the job.

Others pointed out there are still police officers across the country who have not been fired for much worse offenses.

"If I were their defense lawyer, I'd say they weren't shooting unarmed civilians in the back, and as such should be found innocent. Bad joke, I know, I know...."- G M

"Ain't this bout nothing, not only did they not respond for back up, but had the nerve to sue for their jobs back knowing they were in the wrong! WTF?"- EarlGray007

"Our sworn in protectors…."- The Keith-Donovan Experience

"Ohhh my God they did what?!" Ignoring the call on purpose or not, this is like a bad comedy show."- Lets Go

"When Snorlax is more important than robber."- Diory N.

Twitter users also came out in droves to express their shock, disbelief and anger at the incident.

People were furious these two officers were held accountable for their actions, when so many others have yet to be.

Lozano and Mitchell tried to argue their dashcam footage was inadmissible and they weren't actually playing Pokémon Go, merely talking about it.

But their bid was not accepted. The two were charged with multiple counts of misconduct, including failing to respond to a robbery-in-progress call, making misleading statements to their commander and a detective and, indeed, playing Pokémon Go on duty.

Not helping their case, court documents reveal the duo admitted to abandoning their assigned location in order to catch the "Snorlax"

"Petitioners admitted leaving their foot beat area in search of Snorlax, but they insisted they did so 'both' as part of an 'extra patrol' and to 'chase this mythical creature'."

Greg Yacoubian, the lawyer representing the two officers, told NPR his clients were "disappointed" by the outcome, but they hadn't yet given up their fight.

"This case matters because [it] is important to hold the Department accountable regarding its compliance with its own rules and policies."
"Additionally, it's important that the Department be held accountable to adhere to the law with regard to how it conducts its internal investigations."
"The ends do not justify the means"