The California Second District Court of Appeal has upheld the firing of the two Los Angeles police officers— Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell— who were hunting for Pokémon Go characters through the Pokémon GO app instead of responding to "a 211 (robbery) in progress" call.
The appeal was rejected on Friday, affirming a lower court's decision. The ruling ignores a previous claim by the officers that the department had used a digital in-car camera recording of the pair's private conversations as proof of their misconduct. The ruling also rejects the police officers' claims that a supervisor questioned them without legal representation present.
They "obviously are disappointed" in the ruling and are "considering how to proceed," Greg Yacoubian, an officer attorney, said.
In April 2017, Lozano and Mitchell were assigned to patrol in the Crenshaw area, and at the time, there were "more calls than police cars available to respond," according to court documents.
A robbery attempt at the Crenshaw Mall with multiple suspects was called in. The ruling notes that Capt. Darnell Davenport was in the area and responded to the robbery, but Lozano and Mitchell did not.
Sergent Jose Gomez— the patrol supervisor for that day— had requested Lozano and Mitchell as a backup for the robbery, but no response. The two officers stated they had been in a park around loud music with community members and hadn't heard the radio call.
According to court records, officer Mitchell is quoted in the ruling to have said there was "a lot of music" and that it was "really loud in the park. Lozano added, "We have no control over the system and all the loud noise; it was loud."
The next day, Gomez decided to review the patrol vehicle's digital video system recording "still uneasy" about the lack of response from the two officers.
Gomez concluded the footage unveiled the two officers had heard the radio call about the robbery, discussed it, and decided not to respond. —Officer Mitchell alerted Officer Lozano that a specific Pokémon character known as a "Snorlax" was in their perimeter.
"Aw, screw it," Lozano allegedly said.
The video additionally revealed the officers further discussing Pokémon "as they drove to different locations where the virtual creatures appeared on their mobile phones," court records stated.
"Don't run away, don't run away," Officer Lozano said
"This thing is fighting the crap out of me," Officer Mitchell said, referring to the Togetic, a Pokémon. "The guys are going to be so jealous," he added.
An internal affairs investigation indicated the two officers were playing Pokémon Go at the time. The game prompts players to search for Pokémon creatures in their community and then "capture" them.
The Los Angeles Police Department said the officers’ firing was warranted based on multiple counts of on-duty misconduct: They failed to respond to a robbery when their unit was called over the radio. The two officers also made misleading statements to supervisors and detectives during an investigation and played Pokémon Go while on patrol.
The officers pleaded guilty to failing to respond to a robbery call and failing to respond over the radio when their unit was called and not guilty to the other charges.