An appeals court denied two former Los Angeles Police Department officers’ motion to be reinstated last week after they were fired in 2017 for pursuing a rare Pokémon in the mobile game Pokémon Go while on duty. The court documents make for some pretty hilarious and depressing reading.
First, let me take you back to the year 2017: Despacito was burning up the charts, fidget spinners were in the hands of those with undiagnosed ADHD, and Pokémon Go had Americans actually going outside and walking around (though still on their phones, let’s not go crazy here.)
Indeed, no one seemed immune to the desire to catch ’em all, but that makes for a kinda crappy defense. It’s all officers Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell had to work with, however, after they ignored a call from their patrol supervisor to respond to a robbery in progress. From Vice:
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.
Fellow officers left a murder investigation while these bozos snuck away and hunted a Snorlax. There are definitely worse things a cop can get up to, but come on, guys. The two spent 20 minutes hunting for Pokémon and chatting about the struggles of the modern Pokémon trainer. To make matters entirely worse, the two then lied about what happened, saying they weren’t really playing a game but attending a “social media event.” Naturally no one bought this, as Pokémon Go was an incredibly popular game, plus the entire conversation between the two officers was recorded.
The two tried appealing their firing by citing a 1975 case when an employee of the LAPD was reinstated after drinking alcohol on lunch and missing a few shifts. The LAPD, however, thought this example of messing around with Pokémon Go represented an even greater threat to public safety than a two-martini lunch. From Vice:
Both officers tried to get reinstated by referencing a 1975 case in which an employee named Dr. Skelly who regularly drank alcohol on the job and skipped shifts was reinstated, but the Los Angeles police department argued that playing Pokémon Go and lying about it was by far a worse infraction: “The facts in Skelly showed that despite occasionally drinking one or two alcoholic beverages at lunch, not following Department work hours and having unexcused absences, Dr. Skelly’s conduct did not affect the public service … Here, Petitioners’ untruthfulness directly affects their ability to testify in criminal cases. They misused their positions to engage in playing games while on duty and using public resources and ignored their official law enforcement duties putting others in danger. Little else harms the public service more.”
I know what you’re wondering, and yes, they caught the Snorlax, as well as a Togetic. I’m sure the guys at the station were super jealous of the pair as they cleaned out their desks.