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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Pokémon Go: Police fired for chasing Snorlax instead of robbers


Two Los Angeles police officers were fired for chasing Pokémon rather than fleeing robbers, court documents show.

When a radio call for officers to respond to a shop robbery came in, the couple were parked nearby.

However, an examination of their in-car camera footage revealed that they had been playing Pokémon Go and had chosen to pursue a nearby Snorlax – a relatively rare catch – rather than providing backup.

The pair denied playing the game but were sacked after an investigation.

Virtual creatures

Details of the case emerged when the most recent documents about their appeal – which was dismissed – were spotted by Axios.

According to the documents, after ignoring a radio call for help, “for approximately the next 20 minutes, captured [the] petitioners discussing Pokémon as they drove to different locations where the virtual creatures apparently appeared on their mobile phones.”

On April 15, 2017, Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell were on patrol when Macy’s department store was robbed.

According to court documents, another officer, Capt Davenport, who also heard the call, could see the shop – and another police car parked in a nearby alley.

Because the officers in the area did not respond to the call, Capt Davenport responded himself – and saw the other police car reverse down the alley and leave the area.

The two officers later informed a sergeant who had been attempting to contact them for backup that they had not heard the radio.

Snorlax is a fan favourite, appearing in almost every game

However, the footage from the in-car camera revealed that they had discussed the call and decided not to respond.

Instead, they could be heard talking about catching Pokémon five minutes later.

According to the documents, “Officer Mitchell alerted Lozano that ‘Snorlax… just popped up [at] 46th and Leimert.”

The two then proceeded in that direction for a 20-minute gaming session and discussion.

They could be heard discussing the successful capture of Snorlax and the difficulty of the battle with Togetic, another Pokémon.

“The guys are going to be envious,” Officer Mitchell predicted.

‘Extra patrol’

Both officers denied gaming while on duty, telling the investigating officer Officer Mitchell that they had been reading aloud from a text group of other players “bragging about their scores.”

“Det McClanahan determined [the] petitioners were not telling the truth,” according to court documents.

A subsequent board hearing into misconduct found the pair guilty of:

  • failing to respond to a robbery call
  • making misleading statements
  • failing to respond to the radio when contacted
  • playing Pokémon Go on duty
  • making false statements under investigation

According to the court, the “petitioners admitted leaving their foot-beat area in search of Snorlax, but they insisted they did so ‘both’ as part of a ‘extra patrol’ and to ‘chase this mythical creature.'”

Their representatives argued that in-car recordings should not have been used to record private conversations and should not have been used as evidence – but this was denied.

The couple then went to court, where their case was dismissed.

The appeals court also dismissed the case, ruling that the rights of the two former officers had not been violated.

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