Two Los Angeles police officers were fired for ignoring a robbery in progress and instead of trying to catch a Snorlax in Pokémon Go, according to court documents published Friday.
According to the officers’ appeal, former LAPD officers Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell were fired for “willfully abdicating their duty to assist a commanding officer’s response to a robbery in progress and playing a Pokémon mobile game while on duty.”
The incident happened in April 2017, at a Macy’s at Los Angeles’ Crenshaw Mall. According to court records, a patrol supervisor called Mitchell and Lozano to respond to an apparent robbery in progress at the Macy’s; several police officers left the scene of a homicide to respond to the call. Mitchell and Lozano, meanwhile, were in the area but didn’t respond to the call and instead backed down an alley and drove away.
A later investigation of video and audio evidence showed that Mitchell and Lozano discussed responding to the robbery but decided not to. Moments later, Mitchell and Lozano were recorded saying that a “Snorlax … just popped up .. at 46th and Leimert,” and the two strategized how to best catch the rare, gigantic Pokémon.
“For approximately the next 20 minutes, [the in-car monitoring system] captured [Mitchell and Lozano] discussing Pokémon as they drove to different locations where the virtual creatures apparently appeared on their mobile phones,” the court documents say. “On their way to the Snorlax location, Officer Mitchell alerted Officer Lozano that ‘a Togetic just popped up,’” referring to another Pokémon.
Though Mitchell and Lozano did not catch the alleged robbers at Macy’s, they did catch the Snorlax and Togetic after harrowing encounters with both. (A footnote in the court document notes that “according to evidence admitted at the board of rights hearing, ‘Snorlax’ is a Pokémon creature known as ‘the Sleeping Pokémon.’” Anyone who has played Pokémon will know that Snorlaxes often block entire roads and can be woken with a Pokeflute, but is very difficult to catch because of his size and strength.)
“After Mitchell apparently caught the Snorlax—exclaiming, ‘Got ‘em’—petitioners agreed to ‘go get the Togetic’ and drove off.” Mitchell said that he “buried” the Togetic and used an Ultra Ball on it, and was “still trying to catch it” after quite some time.
“Holy crap, man. This thing is fighting the crap out of me,” Mitchell said, according to court records. “Holy crap. Finally …. the guys are going to be so jealous.”
Though they were recorded explaining the entirety of this encounter, as is common with police, both Mitchell and Lozano lied about what happened, according to the court records. Both of them claimed they were merely catching “images” of Pokémon, not playing a “game.” They also claimed that Pokémon Go is not a “game” but was more of a “social media event” that was not “advertised as a game,” the court records say. Eventually, both admitted to going after the Snorlax because they wanted to “chase this mythical creature.”
Anyways, both of the former officers were fired, appealed the decision by claiming that the LAPD violated their privacy by listening to their conversation, and lost their appeal Friday. At least they have a Snorlax from the whole ordeal.