(Trends Wide) — Two Los Angeles police officers lost an appeal and their jobs after a game of Pokémon GO in April 2017.
Instead of answering a nearby call, Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell were caught searching for Pokémon characters through the Pokémon GO app, according to a ruling this month from a California appellate court.
That Saturday a radio call had been sent for “a 211 (robbery) in progress,” according to the sentence. The Macy’s at Crenshaw Plaza, located southwest of downtown Los Angeles, was being held up by multiple suspects.
The sentence indicates that Captain Darnell Davenport heard the call when he was going to the scene of a homicide. From where he was, he could see the Macy’s and another police car that was hidden in an alley. Inside this patrol car were Lozano and Mitchell.
Since Davenport didn’t hear them answer the call, he answered it himself, but noticed the vehicle drive away.
Sergeant José Gómez, supervisor of the patrol that day, realized that Lozano and Mitchell were nearby and asked for them as backup for the robbery, but received no response, according to the court ruling.
Gomez later realized that the vehicle had responded to another call at the same time Davenport was responding to the robbery. This made him curious, so he questioned the two.
They stated that they did not hear a request for backup about the robbery because they were in a park where there was a lot of noise. In the court ruling, Officer Mitchell is quoted as saying that there was “a lot of music” and that there was “a lot of noise in the park.”
Lozano was quoted at the sentencing, adding “We have no control over the system and all the loud noise, it was loud.”
After not being entirely convinced, the next day Gómez decided to review the recording of the vehicle’s digital video system.
The recordings revealed that, instead of answering the call, the two agents were playing the augmented reality game, Pokémon GO, for 20 minutes, according to the sentence.
The app was launched in 2016 and quickly became popular in the United States. Using GPS, users have to locate and collect virtual characters.
In sentencing, Lozano is quoted as saying, “To hell with it,” when debating whether they should answer the call.
Nearby, a “Snorlax”, one of the Pokémon characters, was seen, so the men focused on capturing it. Sentencing evidence indicates that Mitchell caught the creature and exclaimed “Got ’em.”
Another character named “Togetic” appeared, and the two set out to capture it as well. Mitchell was quoted as saying “Don’t run away, don’t run away”.
Mitchell also said, “F*ck. This thing is fighting me” and “the boys will be so jealous.”
When questioned, the officers claimed that they were discussing Pokémon and not playing games.
The officers were fired in 2018 after they were found to have engaged in misconduct and violated the public trust, according to the injunction filed by the men’s attorney, Greg G. Yacoubian.
The men appealed, arguing that the recordings were improperly used as evidence, but this was denied by a High Court. And the appeals court upheld the position on Friday, the ruling said.
Lozano and Mitchell are disappointed with the decision, Yacoubian told Trends Wide.
“The end does not justify the means,” Yacoubian said, “we are evaluating the best way to proceed.”