IOWA CITY, Iowa (CBSNewYork) — A University of Iowa college football player revealed on Facebook that cops drew their guns on him while he was playing Pokémon Go in a park after they mistook him for a bank robbery suspect.
Defensive end Faith Ekakitie, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound senior, wrote on Facebook Wednesday that he had “four gun barrels staring me in the face” while playing the popular game at an Iowa City park.
“Today I was surrounded and searched by approximately five Iowa City Police Officers. My pockets were checked, my backpack was opened and searched carefully, and I was asked to lift up my shirt while they searched my waistband,” Ekakitie wrote. “Not once did they identify themselves to me as Iowa City Police officers, but with four gun barrels staring me in the face, I wouldn’t dare question the authority of the men and woman in front of me. This is what happened from my point of view.”
Ekakitie wrote that he didn’t hear the cops behind them or their commands because he had “music blaring in his ears.”
“In this situation, what the media would fail to let people know is that the suspect had his headphones in the entire time the Police Officers approached him initially. The suspect had actually just pulled up to the park because he was playing a newly popular Game called Pokémon Go. The suspect had reached into his pockets, for something which was his phone, but for all the cops could have known, he was reaching for a gun. The suspect could very well become another statistic on this day,” he wrote.
He continued, “Misunderstandings happen all the time and just like that things can go south very quickly. It is extremely sad that our society has brainwashed us all to the point where we can’t feel safe being approached by the police officers in our respective communities. Not all police officers are out to get you, but at the same time, not all people who fit a criminal profile are criminals.”
Iowa City Police Sgt. Jorey Bailey told The Des Moines Register that a bank robbery occurred less than a block from the park where Ekakitie was playing Pokémon Go and that he fit the suspect’s description.
“The bank robbery call came out, and then two minutes later officers saw this person less than a block away from the bank matching the description,” Bailey told the Register.
Bailey said the officers did the right thing and that race did not play a factor.
“I don’t think race played a factor in this, nor does it in circumstances like this because of the detailed description, the location given by the person and the short time span in which this all occurred,” Bailey explained to the Register.
Ekakitie thanked the police for the way they handled the situation.
“So with that, I would like [to] thank the Iowa City Police department for handling a sensitive situation very professionally. I would also urge people to be more aware of their surroundings because clearly I wasn’t,” Ekakitie said. “Lastly, I would urge us all to at least to attempt to unlearn some of the prejudices that we have learned about each other and now plague our minds and our society. I am convinced that in the same way that we learned these prejudices, we can also unlearn them.”
Last season, Ekakitie recorded 13 tackles and a fumble recovery in 12 games.