Back in 2017, a pair of cops were fired for playing Pokemon Go on duty

"This thing is fighting the crap out of me," the on-duty police officer said of the Pokemon Go Togetic he later insisted was not part of a game.

Good news, this wasn't a fad! (It was a fad.)

I think we’ve already got a contender for “worst MMO criming” for 2022, or we would’ve if it hadn’t happened back in 2017 and only just made it through appeals now: A pair of LAPD officers apparently got fired for playing Pokemon Go on the job and failing to respond to a fellow officers’ requests for backup.

According to the appellate judgment, the two police officers were caught by fellow police when the duo failed to respond to repeated requests (including from their own captain) for police backup at a robbery. The sergeant and a detective ultimately probed the duo’s vehicle recordings to discover that these dudes were playing Pokemon Go and intentionally dodging their duty.

“After carefully listening to the DICVS recording a number of times, Detective McClanahan also became concerned that petitioners were playing ‘the Pokémon Go video game’ while on duty the day of the robbery. The recording showed that, at approximately 6:09 p.m. (just five minutes after Officer Lozano said ‘screw it’ to checking in with communications about the robbery call), Officer Mitchell alerted Lozano that ‘Snorlax’ ‘just popped up’ at ’46th and Leimert.’ After noting that ‘Leimert doesn’t go all the way to 46th,’ Lozano responded, ‘Oh, you [know] what I can do? I’ll [go] down 11th and swing up on Crenshaw. I know that way I can get to it.’ Mitchell suggested a different route, then told Lozano, ‘We got four minutes.’ For approximately the next 20 minutes, the DICVS captured petitioners discussing Pokémon as they drove to different locations where the virtual creatures apparently appeared on their mobile phones. On their way to the Snorlax location, Officer Mitchell alerted Officer Lozano that ‘a Togetic just popped up,’ noting it was ‘[o]n Crenshaw, just South of 50th.’ After Mitchell apparently caught the Snorlax – exclaiming, ‘Got ‘em’ – petitioners agreed to ‘[g]o get the Togetic’ and drove off. When their car stopped again, the DICVS recorded Mitchell saying, ‘Don’t run away. Don’t run away,’ while Lozano described how he ‘buried it and ultra-balled’ the Togetic before announcing, ‘Got him.’ Mitchell advised he was ‘[s]till trying to catch it,’ adding, ‘Holy crap, man. This thing is fighting the crap out of me.’ Eventually Mitchell exclaimed, ‘Holy Crap. Finally,’ apparently in reference to capturing the Togetic, and he remarked, ‘The[ ] guys are going to be so jealous.’ Petitioners then agreed to return to the 7-Eleven (where Sergeant Gomez later met them) to end their watch. On the way, Mitchell remarked, ‘I got you a new Pokémon today, dude.'”

The cops initially insisted to investigators that they were merely “were merely ‘having
a conversation about Pokémon Go‘ and Officer Mitchell had been receiving text messages and alerts from a Pokémon Go players group where ‘people [were] bragging about their scores.'”

“Petitioners also denied playing Pokémon Go while on duty. They claimed they were monitoring a ‘Pokémon tracker’ application on their phone, but not playing the game itself. As for ‘catching’ Pokémon, Officer Lozano insisted this referred to ‘capturing [an] image’ of the Pokémon on the tracking application to share with friends, while Officer Mitchell said his statements about ‘fighting’ the Togetic referred to ‘relaying that information to the groups on my app,’ adding that, ‘in order to take the picture, occasionally, the creature will fight.’ Lozano said they were not engaged in a game; rather, it was a ‘social media event.’ Mitchell said he did not consider the application a game because it was not ‘advertised as a game.’ Petitioners admitted leaving their foot beat area in search of Snorlax, but they insisted they did so ‘both’ as part of an ‘extra patrol’ and to ‘chase this mythical creature.'”

The pair were ultimately fired for their conduct for playing Pokemon Go on the job, for lying, and for the fact that they were shirking their duty and could’ve gotten their fellow officers and bystanders hurt. The only reason we’re finding out about it now is that the duo appealed their termination on the tenuous grounds that they hadn’t been properly represented during the initial interrogations and that their vehicle recordings should’ve been inadmissible. The trial court and now the appeals court have denied those appeals.

I’m filing this under “this is why we can’t have nice things,” but to be honest, the sergeant and detective who pursued these clowns are nice things.

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