Court rules firing of LAPD officers playing Pokemon GO justified
Jan 11, 2022
A California court has ruled that the firing of two Los Angeles police officers who were exposed playing Pokemon GO instead of responding to a robbery was justified.
Officers Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell were fired in 2017 for failing to respond to a robbery at the Crenshaw Mall. The two officers claimed that the department had improperly recorded their private conversation and that no legal or labor representation was present when they were questioned about the situation. But the California Court of Appeal ruled that the two officers were justly fired.
LADP officers ignore robbery to catch Snorlax in Pokemon GO
Patrol supervisor Sgt. Jose Gomez was confused why Lozano and Mitchell didn’t respond to a robbery that was called in while the two were on a foot patrol in Crenshaw. The call asked for more police to respond, but the two officers did not do so at the time.
Concerned, Gomez radioed Lozano and Mitchell to ask if they could respond to the robbery, but he didn’t get a response. He later questioned the two officers about the situation and they stated that they had been in a park with loud music and hadn’t heard the radio call.
Gomez wasn’t convinced. He decided to review the in-car video from Lozano and Mitchell’s vehicle, according to court records. From the video, Gomez witnessed Lozano saying “screw it” to the call. Five minutes later, the officers were “discussing Pokemon,” driving to different locations to find a Snorlax.
Despite further excuses for the behavior from the two officers, police officials decided to fire the pair. In response, the officers pleaded guilty to not responding but denied guilt related to any other counts. They even denied they were playing Pokemon GO as part of a “social media event.”
Disciplinary boards heard the case in closed-door disciplinary and unanimously ruled against Lozano and Mitchell, stating that they were “disingenuous and deceitful” with investigators. They also “violated the trust of the public” by playing Pokemon GO on duty, with some even calling the behavior “embarrassing.”
Court rules in favor of LAPD in Pokemon GO case
On Friday, the appeals court ruled in favor of the LAPD. The court found the use of in-car video justified, explaining that it would be “preposterous” to “ignore evidence.” The court also rejected the officers’ claims that their rights were violated by not having a representative present during questioning.
The two officers still feel the LAPD broke rules and believe they should not have been fired based on private discussions.
It’s unclear if the two officers ever caught a Snorlax in Pokemon GO during their search.
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