Two LAPD officers who were fired from their jobs in 2017 for playing Pokémon Go while on duty have had their appeal for reinstatement denied by a California judge.
The officers’ squad car video camera showed the two officers, Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell, ignored a request for backup to play the game, according to court documents. The pair were stationed near a robbery in progress, and after the responding officers put out a call for backup, Lozano and Mitchell seemingly ignored the call and left the area.
When asked later why they hadn’t responded to the call, the two officers said they were in a loud area and couldn’t hear their radio. Lozano and Mitchell’s supervisor was sceptical of their explanation and checked the in-car recording system (commonly known as a dashcam), which revealed the two had heard the call and chose to go elsewhere as they didn’t want to help. The supervisor reported the incident, which opened a formal investigation.
According to court filings, an extensive review of the in-car video system revealed that shortly after leaving the scene of the robbery, the two officers could be heard discussing Pokémon Go, including a Snorlax that had appeared and the best route to intercept and catch it.
For approximately the next 20 minutes, the [in-car video system] captured petitioners discussing Pokémon as they drove to different locations where the virtual creatures apparently appeared on their mobile phones.
When confronted, the officers denied they were playing Pokémon Go and said they were just having a conversation. They tried to appeal on the grounds that the in-vehicle recordings were not meant to be used to monitor officers’ “private conversations,” but a judge ruled that that premise was ”flawed” and denied the appeal.