Ruling Upheld for LAPD Officers Fired For Playing Pokémon GO

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Damir Mujezinovic

Back in April 2017, the Macy's at Crenshaw Plaza, located southwest of downtown Los Angeles, California, was being robbed by multiple individuals, so a radio call for "a 211 (robbery) in progress" was sent out.

Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell were nearby, but they never responded to the call -- they ignored it, and instead played the augmented reality mobile game Pokémon GO.

Pokémon GO, which was released in 2016, uses mobile devices with GPS to locate and capture virtual creatures called Pokémon.

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Captain Darnell Davenport also heard the radio call as he was heading to a homicide scene, and he saw Lozano and Mitchell's patrol car in an alley near the Macy's that was being robbed, as reported by CNN.

Davenport did not hear Lozano and Mitchell respond to the call, so he decided to take it himself.

Sergeant Jose Gomez, patrol supervisor for that day, meanwhile, realized Lozano and Mitchell were nearby and requested them as backup - but he received no response.

Questioning

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Gomez found it strange that Lozano and Mitchell never responded to the robbery call, so he decided to question them.

The two officers claimed they never even heard the call because they were in a "really loud" park where there was "a lot of music," but that turned out to be false.

When Gomez decided to review Lozano and Mitchell patrol car's digital video system recording, he realized that the officers were in fact too busy playing Pokémon GO to respond to the robbery call.

Playing Pokémon GO

According to a court ruling obtained by CNN, Lozano said "aw, screw it" when he heard the call -- instead of responding, he and Mitchell focused on catching the character Snorlax, which was nearby.

Another Pokémon character called a Togetic was also nearby, so Mitchell did his best to catch it, saying "Don't run away. Don't run away."

"Holy crap, man. This thing is fighting the crap out of me... the guys are going to be so jealous," Mitchell said as he fought the Pokémon.

Lozano And Mitchell Fired

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Both Lozano and Mitchell were fired in 2018 over misconduct and violating the public's trust.

However, they appealed the ruling, with their lawyer Greg G. Yacoubian claiming the recordings were used improperly as evidence in court.

A Superior Court denied this claim and, on Friday, the appeals court ruled to uphold that decision.

"The ends do not justify the means. We are evaluating how best to proceed," Yacoubian said in a statement, noting that both of his clients are very disappointed with the rulings.

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