People often neglect what they should be doing to go after a rare encounter in Pokémon Go, but two Los Angeles police officers took it a step too far, resulting in their dismissal from the force.
As reported by VICE, two LAPD officers were fired for ignoring an ongoing robbery in favor of pursuing two wild pocket monsters in the popular mobile game Pokémon Go. The robbery in question occurred in April 2017 at a Macy’s at Crenshaw Mall in Los Angeles. While several officers responded to a call from their superiors, with some traveling from the scene of a homicide, former cops Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell did not join their colleagues. Court documents reveal that the pair were hunting a Snorlax and a Togetic.
Lozano and Mitchell allegedly discussed responding to the Macy’s robbery but instead decided to forgo it, with Lozano quoted as having said “Screw it.” Roughly five minutes after this conversation, Lozano reportedly spotted the Snorlax which led the former police officers to plan out a route to catch the drowsy creature. Both officers were unaware of the digital in-car video system, or DICVS, recording their actions and speech. While the two now dismissed officers drove in pursuit of the Snorlax, the DICVS also picked up Mitchell identifying the nearby Togetic.
After the ex-cops caught the Pokémon, they were recorded as saying “Got ’em” and “Holy crap. Finally… the guys are going to be so jealous.” At the court hearing, the pair would admit that the opportunity to “chase this mythical creature,” alluding to Snorlax, was too good to pass up. Both defendants claimed that Pokémon Go wasn’t a game but was rather a “social media event” in which they catch images of Pokémon.
Despite the presented evidence, Lozano and Mitchell appealed the decision filed by the LAPD. The dismissed officers alleged that their privacy was infringed upon with the DICVS and would later cite a reinstatement case from 1975, which saw an LAPD employee named Dr. Skelly rejoin the force after multiple infractions involving alcohol. The court deemed neither argument to be valid, stating that “playing Pokémon Go showed complete disregard for the community, wasted resources, violated public trust and was unprofessional and embarrassing to the Department.” The dismissals of Lozano and Mitchell stood.