'Real-life Onion article': LA cops fired for ignoring robbery to chase SNORLAX on Pokemon Go!

'Can you blame them?' jokes internet as users back Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell after duo lose their appeal to be reinstated following 2017 firing


                            'Real-life Onion article': LA cops fired for ignoring robbery to chase SNORLAX on Pokemon Go!
An LAPD patrol car (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) with an insert of a Snorlax (Bulbapedia)

If you were to visit Twitter on January 10, 2022, you'd find 'Snorlax' trending and with good reason. The fictional creature isn't getting its own solo film but is rather the subject of a bizarre dismissal of two Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) cops back in 2017. The two cops, Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell were reportedly so busy chasing a Snorlax in 2017 that they ignored a robbery and were dismissed. The case has returned to the public's imagination over three years later after the duo lost their appeal to be reinstated. 

The duo's dismissal is probably one of the strongest in recent times when we've seen many cops be fired for bizarre reasons. In May 2021, Idaho Marshal Nate Silvester was fired for mocking LeBron James in a TikTok video. Then in July, a police chief in Idaho was forced to resign after he was caught placing a KKK sign on a Black colleague's desk. But perhaps the most awkward firing was that of an unnamed LASD deputy in October 2021, after he was caught having sex on duty in his car while a dispatcher tries to warn him his mic is on. 

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Predating all these dismissals is that of Lozano and Mitchell, who were caught in April 2017 for playing Pokemon Go, rather than doing their duty. They appealed their termination, but years later a Los Angeles court refused to budge, siding with the LAPD's decision. The court documents truly make for a fascinating read, if you are so inclined. If not, here's a short summary. 

Los Angeles Police Department officers are deployed around the police headquarters on February 7, 2013, in Los Angeles, California. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

 

Cops fired for chasing Snoarlax over robbers

On April 15, 2017, Lozano and Mitchell were on their beat in the Crenshaw Corridor and Leimert Park area of Los Angeles when a robbery was reported at the nearby Crenshaw Mall. Captain Darnell Davenport attempted to contact the two to respond, but they didn't and instead left the area. At first, both officers claimed they were near a park and couldn't hear the radios because of the loud music.

But, when investigating the car's video recording (DIVCS), the whole story came to light. Not only did the duo ignore radio calls, with Lozano even saying "ah screw it", but it appears they were busy with something else entirely - hunting for a Snorlax. According to the court document, "the DICVS captured petitioners discussing Pokémon as they drove to different locations where the virtual creatures apparently appeared on their mobile phone." The documents add, "Petitioners also denied playing Pokémon Go while on duty. They claimed they were monitoring a 'Pokémon tracker' application."

An image of a Snorlax (Pokemon website)

 

The duo defended their actions claiming they weren't playing a game, but rather participating in a "social media event" and said they left their beat area not just to chase the Snorlax but also as "part of an extra patrol". Unfortunately for them, the LAPD didn't find it amusing and had them fired. They then tried to appeal the verdict, arguing that the DICVS was not meant to be used to monitor officers’ "private conversations" which the court called "flawed."

'Real life is an Onion article now'

While the court may not have sided with Lozano and Mitchell, social media users jokingly did. "I mean a 1000 pound wild animal is nothing to sneeze at either no wonder they wanted to catch it before it endangered the public," one user replied to the news. Another noted, "Real life is an Onion article now." One person replied, "Don’t blame em. I’d protect this fella with my life." Another commented, "In their defense, a Snorlax was pretty hard to find back in 2016."



 



 



 



 

 

Others used the article to poke fun at the police, with one commenting, "It’s easier to fire police officers for chasing a Snorlax than it is for murdering an unarmed African American." Another asked, "Did the Snorlax live tho." One person joked, "Reports were the snorlax had a weapon though." Another tweeted, "Look all I'm saying is the robber wasn't gonna get caught anyways and a Snorlax is a solid Pokemon to add to the squad!"