Dashcam footage released by the Los Angeles Police Department captured two former police officers ignoring a robbery call to play Pokémon Go.
Officers Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell were fired in 2018 after an internal investigation and disciplinary review panel ruled they violated department policy by failing to respond in 2017 to multiple backup calls for a robbery, “despite being parked directly across the street.” The officers then lied about playing the popular mobile phone game, according to internal affairs documents.
The footage, which you can see in the below video, had previously been described in court documents but wasn’t released to the public until last week.
According to the police internal affairs document, on April 15, 2017, an LAPD captain made a call for backup after he responded to a report of a robbery in progress at a store involving three suspects who were possibly fighting security officers.
According to the newly released dashcam footage, Lozano could be heard groaning and saying, “I don’t want to be his help,” in response to the captain’s call.
An LAPD sergeant who was assisting also saw Lozano and Mitchell nearby and attempted to call their car, which was parked across the street from the store, but there was no response, the document said.
“They were in an ideal position to respond to the call and provide immediate assistance,” police said. “It was broadcast the suspects were possibly fighting with security. The officers made no effort to respond to the location to assist them.”
In spite of continued updates on their radio about the robbery call, as well as another attempt by the sergeant to contact them, Lozano and Mitchell chose to exit the area and drive away from the robbery in progress by reversing down the alley so they would not be seen, the internal affairs document said.
The dashcam video then captured the officers talking about playing Pokémon Go for more than 20 minutes as they quickly drove to different locations to try to catch a Snorlax and a Togetic. The app relies on its users moving around a physical area in order to “discover” certain types of Pokémon, which they then have the chance to catch.
“The officers left the location and began driving to 50th and Crenshaw. As they drove through the residential area their speed appeared faster than the speed limit and they went through a stop sign,” the document read.
The former officers then parked as Mitchell was struggling to catch a Pokémon on the app.
“The guys are going to be so jealous,” Mitchell said after capturing it, the internal affairs document said.
Later that day, Gomez confronted the officers and questioned Lozano and Mitchell about why they did not respond to the robbery-in-progress call, to which they claimed they did not hear it because they had been in a park with loud music during the time of call, the internal affairs document said.
According to the document, during the course of the internal investigation, the officers denied playing Pokémon Go while on duty and claimed they were only conversing about the game. Mitchell said that the game notification that can be heard on the dashcam footage was activity from a group of other Pokémon Go players that he was a part of.
Lozano and Mitchell have been on the force for about 17 years and seven years respectively before they were fired. They pleaded guilty to not responding to the radio call, but not guilty to other counts of misconduct, according to the Los Angeles Times. An appeals court last year affirmed the LAPD was justified in firing them, the Times reported.
Greg Yacoubian told the LA Times that his clients were “treated unfairly,” claiming that the department had broken its own rules by using the recording of their private conversation to prove their misconduct.
“The right to privacy of the officers is really what was at issue here and there’s no dispute that the [dashboard camera] was left inadvertently activated,” Yacoubian told the outlet.