Earlier this year, Motherboard brought you the ridiculous story of two Los Angeles Police Department officers who were fired for ignoring an active robbery in order to go on a quest to capture a Snorlax in ‘Pokémon Go.’ Months later, thanks to the magic of public records requests, we have obtained a wealth of files about this harrowing incident and its aftermath, including an audio transcript of the conversation between the officers as they ignore radio calls for help from their fellow officers while they hunted the elusive Snorlax and Togetic.
According to the Internal Affairs file, which was sent to Motherboard as a file called “dishonesty.pdf,” the incident occurred April 15, 2017. Sergeant Jose Gomez radioed officers Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell for help with a robbery in progress involving “three male suspects, stealing merchandise, and possibly fighting with security” at a mall near where their police cruiser was parked.
Gomez didn’t hear back from them. He later confronted them about it. “Mitchell advised there was music in the park on Saturdays which made it hard to hear the radio,” the IA file said.
The next day, Gomez pulled the video footage from their squad car. He discovered that the pair were parked literally across the street from the alleged crime. “The officers …reversed in the alley, drove down another alley, and went Code 6 (left the car) just a short distance away,” the IA investigation said.
The IA also had recordings of Lozano and Mitchell’s conversations. “You want to put us on the corridor?” Mitchell asked as they were driving away from the scene of the crime.
“Yeah, ha ha,” Lozano replied. Then dispatch reached out to the officers and asked for their help directly. They ignored it.
“Should we ask if there is a message?” Lozano said. “Maybe they want us to go over there and help out.”
“It’s up to you senior,” Mitchell said.
“Ahh, screw it,” Lozano said.
LAPD cop cars have cameras that record video and audio in them. “The officers did not realize their Digital In-Car Video (DICV) was activated,” the IA file said. “Backing their vehicle away from the call in the alley was clearly an attempt to drive away from the location without being seen, otherwise the officers would have just driven forward out of the alley on Crenshaw Boulevard. This, however, would have put them in clear sight of the robbery-in-progress call making it more difficult to avoid the call. The officers’ statements to each other while they were backing away from the call clearly showed they had no interest in assisting.”
What follows is a transcript of the audio as presented in the IA file, edited for clarity and style by Motherboard.
Mitchell: “Snorlax just popped up.”
Lozano: “What? Where?”
Mitchell: “46th and Leimert.”
Lozano: “Does it say … (inaudible)”
Lozano: “Does it say anything about…(inaudible)”
Lozano: “Leimert doesn’t go all the way to 46h, does it? Or, you know what I could do? I’ll go down to 11th. Swing up on Crenshaw. That way I can get to it.”
Mitchell: “If this light changes. You could take 11th to 46 and then make a right on 46. If it’s up at Calvary Chapel. Christian Calvary Chapel. Remember we were there earlier? You went to go check the church. That’s exactly where it’s at. We got four minutes…then, after that, Togetic just popped up…I think they were updating their server ‘cause I have to install the update…why is it still green? Two minutes.”
Lozano: “And we’ll get the same result as friggin’ yesterday…and it’s gonna go blink and change into something else.”
“The officers were driving through a residential area and their speed picked up,” according to the IA file. “It appeared they were trying to get to 46h and Leimert quickly.”
Mitchell: “There it is. It just popped up. Did it pop up for you?”
Mitchell: What’s yours? 1876?” [ Editor’s note: This is a probable reference to the “power level” of the Snorlax the officers were chasing, a number that communicates the overall power of a Pokémon in Pokémon Go.]
Lozano: “Yeah. 1567 (Inaudible)”
Mitchell: “Then we gotta go get the Togetic. Got him. It’s strong.”
Mitchell: “We gotta good (inaudible) earthquake.”
Lozano: “Oh, shit.”
Mitchell: “Alright, go get the Togetic.”
Mitchell: “On Crenshaw. Just south of 50th.”
“The officers left the location and began driving to 50th and Crenshaw,” according to the IA file. “As they drove through the residential area their speed appeared faster than the speed limit and they went through a stop sign.”
Lozano: “50th and further?”
Mitchell: “Can you cross over on 50th?”
Lozano: “Cross to the other side of the street?”
Mitchell: “Yeah. I think you’re going to have to go up on that hill.”
Lozano: “I’d have to be over there cause the street is that way not this way and I’m gonna have to go all the way around.”
Mitchell: “OK. Actually it’s up at the stop. See it?”
Lozano: “Well I see it stopped but I don’t see it. I can probably get it if we’re over here.”
Mitchell: “You see it on your…”
Lozano: “Mine’s blacked out…hopefully it shows right here. If not, I’ll make a right. It’s gonna be further down.”
Mitchell: “Yeah it’s gonna be further…”
Lozano: “Is it? Well the Pokestop’s here. But I mean, is it gonna be further south?”
Mitchell: “Nah. Right here.”
At this point, Lozano stopped the police car.
Mitchell: “It should be to your left. There it is. Man, it’s like white. [This is a reference to the color of Togetic.] You can’t even see it.”
Lozano: “If I was driving around real fast I wouldn’t even know it was here.”
Mitchell [Presumably speaking to the Pokemon]: “Don’t run away. Don’t run away.”
Lozano: “I buried it and ultraballed it and it’s still showing red.”
Mitchell: “I know.”
Lozano: “Got him!”
Mitchell: “You did it. Nice.”
Lozano: “This is a Togetic.”
Lozano: “It’s crazy looking.”
“The officers continued talking about the game and remained parked,” the IA file said. “The DICV continued to pick up dinging sounds as if the officers were being notified of something.”
Lozano: “You’re still trying to catch it.”
Mitchell: “Yeah man.”
Lozano: “Gee. I’m lucky then. Dog gone it.”
Mitchell: “Still trying to catch it. Holy crap.”
Lozano: “Ultra-ball. I’m lucky right now I haven’t really needed ultra-balls. I have 250.”
Mitchell: “Yeah, that’s good…what the heck man. Holy crap man. This thing is fighting the crap out of me. Do I have good stats at least? Decent defense blown away by stats.”
Lozano: “You said you did or didn’t have one of these?”
Mitchell: “I don’t have one.”
Lozano: “You got lucky catching that thing.”
Mitchell: “Sure did.”
Lozano: “It shouldn’t be this difficult though.”
Mitchell: “This thing is crazy difficult. Holy crap.”
Lozano: “I saw you mess that up. It still bounced out. Is there going to be another poke-ball higher than that one?”
Mitchell: “Yeah. There’s a master ball.”
Lozano: “At level what?”
According to the IA file, the cops sat in the parked squad car and continued to talk about Pokemon.
Mitchell: “Holy crap! Finally! The guys are going to be so jealous.”
Lozano: “Let’s go back to the 7-11 and sit there.”
Afterward, Mitchell said to Lozano: “Yeah, I got your new Pokemon today, dude.”
Neither Mitchell nor Lozano are heroes; before going on their Pokemon quest, they encountered a homeless man in an alley, according to the documents. Mitchell told Lozano: “I’m going to take his alcohol,” the document says. Lozano responded: “That’s the least you can do.”
The incident sparked days of investigation and interrogation and months of court proceedings, according to court records previously reported by Motherboard and the internal affairs files obtained by Motherboard.
The day after the incident, Sergeant Gomez began to investigate what happened with Mitchell and Lozano to make them sneak away from the scene of a crime, and quickly discovered they had been playing Pokémon Go. “During the three hearing days the board did not see either officer take ownership of their actions, instead they continued their charade of using semantic terms such as ‘social media event,’ and ‘augmented reality game,’ to support their defense that they did not lie and were not involved in a game,” the IA file said. It added that the pair said they were involved in a large group text thread about the game, and that they were merely talking about it, not playing it.
“THE VIDEO INCLUDED THE POLICE VEHICLE’S MOVEMENTS TO DIFFERENT LOCATIONS WHERE THE FICTIONAL CHARACTERS WERE KNOWN TO APPEAR IN A VIRTUAL WORLD,” the IA files said. “Both Lozano and Mitchell mentioned the characters by name to include Togetic and Snorlax, supported by the comments that they would need to arrive quickly to the next location in order to gain points.”
Despite the evidence stacked against them, the pair refused to admit to playing Pokémon Go on the job. “During testimonies of both Lozano and Mitchell each denied playing the Pokémon Go game based on the following: the game requires walking, not driving to different locations, and that they were only monitoring a tracking application to catch mythical creatures,” the IA document said.
They also said they were in the area because of a history of robberies in the area, and also claimed that they were there to provide policing support for a public event that was not actually occurring that day.
Lozano was on the force for 18.5 years and Mitchell was on the force for 8.5 years, the document said, and stated that his actions of catching a Snorlax were “reprehensible and inexcusable,” and that lying about his thrilling battle with Togetic, “showed poor commitment to leadership and lacked integrity … Lozano showed blatant disregard for the safety of the community and his co-workers because he was not interested in doing his job.”
The evidence, however, was damning and Los Angeles eventually fired both Lozano and Mitchell.
This was upheld by the LAPD Board of Rights, which reviewed the incident. In these proceedings, which are also hilarious, the board, for example, found the pair “GUILTY” of “PLAYING POKEMAN GO [sic] WHILE ON PATROL IN YOUR POLICE VEHICLE.” It also found them guilty according to the evidence of “THEIR INVOLVEMENT IN AN ACTIVITY INVOLVING THE VIDEO GAME POKEMAN GO [sic].” The Board of Rights also determined that Mitchell and Lozano were only in the are “TO FIND MYTHICAL CHARACTERS AND EARN POINTS.” All of this, they said, “REFLECTED POORLY ON ALL THE MEN AND WOMAN [sic] WHO PROUDLY WEAR THE LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT BADGE.”
All of this was also upheld in court, which noted that “Their behavior reflected gross negligence, cowardice, lack of thoughtfulness and deceit,” court records said.
Jason Koebler contributed reporting.