US officers who ditched robbery play 'Pokemon Go' sacked

Police officers went off to play mobile game instead of responding to robbery

Two US officers were sacked after ditching a robbery to play the mobile game "Pokemon Go". AP

Two US police officers who went off to hunt for Pokemon instead of responding to a robbery have been sacked.

Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell cruised the streets searching for fantastic creatures in the augmented reality smartphone game, documents show, bagging a relatively rare Snorlax, as well as a difficult-to-trap Togetic - but no criminals.

In-car recording of their conversation revealed that they had heard the call for help at a Los Angeles department store, but decided instead to drive off.

"Officer Mitchell alerted Lozano that 'Snorlax' 'just popped up'," legal documents relating to their dismissal show.

"For approximately the next 20 minutes, the (recording) captured petitioners discussing Pokemon as they drove to different locations where the virtual creatures apparently appeared on their mobile phones."

Players look for "pocket monsters" in the "Pokemon Go" mobile game.

The Los Angeles police officers snagged the Snorlax and then turned their attention to a Togetic - which proved to be a little tricky to subdue.

"Holy [expletive], man. This thing is fighting the [expletive] out of me," Mr Mitchell said, according to the documents, which were published last week.

Both men were charged with multiple counts of misconduct, and admitted failing to respond to the robbery call during the incident in April 2017, but denied they had been playing Pokemon Go.

The pair insisted in disciplinary hearings that they had merely been discussing the game, and challenged Los Angeles city's dismissal.

California's court of appeal, however, did not believe their explanations, and upheld their firings.

Pokemon Go took the mid-2010s by storm, with millions around the world glued to their smartphones in the hunt for fantastical creatures.

Such was the popularity of the game at one point that several military installations felt the need to warn troops about the possible perils of playing on bases, including near runways.

Fans have also been blamed for causing traffic accidents, and at least one illegal border crossing was blamed on someone trying to "Catch 'em all."

Updated: January 11th 2022, 9:31 PM