Two former Los Angeles Police Department officers are accused of ignoring a robbery in progress in order to instead focus on catching a Snorlax in the Pokémon Go app during an incident that took place nearly five years ago.
Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell were discharged from the department after a hearing in relation to the incident, according to newly released court documents obtained by CBS 17 through the California Courts’ website.
The incident took place on April 15, 2017, when Lozano and Mitchell, who were partners on a foot beat patrol, received a report of a robbery in progress at a Macy’s store in the Crenshaw Mall, according to court documents.
A captain reported to have been in seeing distance of the mall at the time of the incident said he noticed a police car parked in a nearby alley.
The captain said he assumed the vehicle might have been a traffic unit or one from another division on a different frequency, so he decided to respond to the call himself, which is when he noticed the vehicle leaving the alley, the documents stated.
A sergeant working the watch commander’s office described the next few minutes as “chaotic” when he noticed the captain responding while Mitchell and Lozano were located nearby, so he attempted to radio the two officers and request for them to respond to the robbery, but didn’t receive a response from their vehicle.
The sergeant said he met with Lozano and Mitchell later in the evening and they claimed to have not heard the call at the time.
The sergeant, however, observed dashcam video from the two officers’ vehicle and saw they’d received the call, discussed it, and instead decided not to respond, documents confirmed.
A detective who investigated the incident studied audio recordings, which confirmed the officers were playing Pokémon Go when the robbery was in progress.
In the audio, Mitchell alerted Lozano that a Snorlax had “just popped up” in the area, which led to the officers discussing how to catch the character and how much time they’d have to do so.
Dashcam then showed Mitchell and Lozano discussing Pokémon as they drove to different locations for about 20 minutes before a Togetic popped up on their way to where the Snorlax was located.
“Don’t run away. Don’t run away,” Mitchell is heard saying while attempting to catch the Snorlax,” according to court documents via CBS 17. “Got him.”
“Holy crap, man. This thing is fighting the crap out of me,” Michell added. “Holy crap. Finally.”
The two officers initially denied playing the game while on duty and later appealed their discharges, arguing that their conversation on the dashcam was private and that the department’s decision was too harsh a punishment, which they lost.