LAPD releases video of cops who ignored robbery call to play Pokémon Go

The Los Angeles Police Department released video last week of a 2017 incident in which two officers ignored a call for a robbery to play Pokémon Go.

LAPD officers Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell were fired in 2018 more than a year after the alleged incident. The firing came after a disciplinary board found them guilty of breaking department policy. The incident was recorded on a digital camera on the patrol car's dashboard.

It happened back on April 15, 2017. Around 5:45 p.m., dispatch requested Lozano and Mitchell back up another officer responding to a robbery in the area. The department said Lozano and Mitchell were just 200 yards away. After they didn't, the department said the officers lied about why. When asked by a supervisor why they didn't respond to the radio call, they said that they were in a park with loud music and didn't hear it. 

Video released on Oct. 5 told a different story. After the call for assistance, Lozano asked Mitchell, "Should we ask to see if there is a message? Maybe they want us to go over there and help out." 

Mitchell then said "It's up to you senior."

"Ahh, screw it," Lozano said.

About 20 minutes after the call, the officers were heard on the on-board camera talking about Pokémon Go, the augmented reality game that allows users to "catch" Pokémon based on their real-world location.

"Snorlax just popped up," Mitchell was heard saying in the recording, referring to the Pokémon. The officers were heard discussing where the character would appear, then driving there in order to catch it. The officers continued for 20 or so minutes, driving around the area, discussing the mechanics of the game — "berries" and "ultra balls" — while trying to catch other Pokémon.

After the incident, both Lozano and Mitchell were charged with misconduct. A disciplinary panel voted unanimously to recommend they be fired.

"In this scenario, their decision to not respond, and then attempt to conceal their whereabouts led this board to conclude that Lozano and Mitchell demonstrated a severe negative attitude and disdain toward Captain Davenport, and reflected poorly on all the men and women who proudly wear the Los Angeles Police Department badge," a report detailing the board's recommendation read. "In evaluating the actions of Lozano and Mitchell while playing video games on their phone, the board took issue with their complete disregard for the community and wasteful nature of their behavior Their inattention to duty violated the trust of the public, and represents unprofessional and embarrassing behavior." 

According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, the two officers appealed their termination, but a California Court of Appeal upheld the decision that the LAPD was justified in firing them.

Lozano had served with the LAPD for more than 17 years, while Mitchell had been with the department for nearly 8 at the time of the incident.

The full three-hour video can be seen here.