6:17 AM PST, January 12, 2022
The two former LAPD officers, who were fired for allegedly ignoring a robbery to play Pokémon Go, are “disappointed” their appeal for reinstatement was denied by a California judge earlier this week, their lawyer told Inside Edition Digital.
Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell were fired for misconduct in 2017 when a video system in their patrol car captured them allegedly deciding not to respond to a nearby robbery, but instead choosing to chase a Snorlax and a Togetic while on duty, court documents alleged. The two Pokémon are considered rare in the mobile game.
“Louis and Eric are understandably disappointed with the opinion,” their attorney Gregory G. Yacoubian said.
The pair had been discussing “whether they should assist” officers responding to a nearby robbery before deciding “not to respond to the call,” court documents alleged. Minutes later, the video system also recorded Mitchell telling Lozano that a Snorlax “just popped up” before driving around for the next 20 minutes talking about different Pokémon and strategies to capture them, according to court documents.
“After Mitchell apparently caught the Snorlax—exclaiming, ‘Got ‘em’—petitioners agreed to ‘[g]o get the Togetic’ and drove off,” the court documents stated. “When their car stopped again, the DICVS recorded Mitchell saying, ‘Don’t run away. Don’t run away,’ while Lozano described how he ‘buried it and ultra-balled’ the Togetic before announcing, ‘Got him.'”
While they pleaded guilty to some charges of misconduct, including failing to respond to a robbery-in-progress call and failing to respond over the radio when their unit was called during the robbery, they pleaded not guilty to playing Pokémon Go while on patrol in their vehicle.
Yacoubian explained that the basis of the appeal was on the grounds that the in-vehicle recordings were not meant to be used to monitor officers’ private conversations.
“[It] is important to hold the Department accountable regarding its compliance with its own rules and policies,” he said. “Our community should expect its government to comply with laws, rules, and policies, even when it may be inconvenient to do so during internal investigations.”
Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game played on a cellphone that uses the device’s GPS system to “discover” and “catch” Pokemon, according to the game’s description on its website.
Since its launch in 2016, however, it has been the center of much controversy as it has led to instances of injuries, trespassing and accidents around the world. A group of armed robbers even improperly used the game to find teen victims in 2016, according to authorities.