Last week, a California appeals court ruled that two Los Angeles police officers were rightfully fired for playing the video game Pokémon Go instead of responding to a robbery.
In April of 2017, the video system in their patrol car revealed the officers were discussing how to catch a Snorlax and trying to capture the rare Togetic in the game. According to the ruling, the gaming discussion overshadowed an active report of a robbery at a Macy’s in the Crenshaw area.
A police captain who arrived at the scene saw another patrol car parked nearby and wondered why the officers hadn’t responded and answered it himself, court documents said.
The officers have repeatedly claimed they hadn’t heard the request for backup on the police radio. However, the two can be heard discussing whether to respond on the patrol car recordings. Lozano could be heard saying, “Ah, screw it,” according to the court filings.
The filings also said that the officers could be heard for the next 20 minutes discussing the GPS-based Pokémon augmented-reality cellphone game and driving to various locations to “capture” virtual creatures.
Tracy McClanahan, an LAPD detective, conducted a misconduct investigation and concluded that Lozano and Mitchell “willfully” failed to respond to the robbery. She also voiced concerns about the officers playing “the Pokémon Go game” while on duty.
According to the filing, the officers were charged with six counts of on-duty misconduct, including failing to respond to a robbery-in-progress call, playing Pokémon Go while on patrol, and making false statements to McClanahan during the investigation.
The two officers were fired after the police board of rights unanimously ruled that they acted in an “unprofessional and embarrassing” manner and violated the public’s trust.
The officers had asked a court to overturn their firings. They argued that the recordings of their private conversations were improperly used as evidence. However, the Superior Court judge denied their petition.