An Iowa football player says he was “fearing for his life” when he came face to face with five police officers—four of them with guns trained on him—at an Iowa city park.
Faith Ekakitie, a defensive lineman for the University of Iowa, was playing the viral virtual app Pokemon Go. Unfortunately for him, a nearby bank had just been robbed by a man fitting his description.
Ekakitie recounted the bizarre incident in an extended Facebook post.
“Today I was surrounded and searched by approximately five Iowa City Police Officers. My pockets were checked, my backpack was opened up and searched carefully, and I was asked to lift up my shirt while they searched my waistband. 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,” he said.
However, there are two sides to every story. So in the same post, Ekakitie narrated the event again, but this time from the vantage point of police looking for a suspect described as a large black male, wearing all black, with something on top of the head, and armed.
“As they drive past an Iowa City park that was less than 3 minutes away from the bank that was just robbed, they notice a large black man, dressed in all black, with black goggles on his head. They quickly move to action and identify themselves as the Iowa City police and ask me to turn around and place my hands up. I do not comply, they ask again, and again no response from me. So they all draw their guns and begin to slowly approach the suspect.”
If there seems to be contradiction in the accounts, there isn’t. Ekakitie noted that media hadn’t reported that he had his headphones on at the time and that the police had approached him from behind. Thus he didn’t hear them identify themselves. He also at one point had reached into his pocket for his phone, an act that may have been perceived as pulling a gun.
The Bigger Picture
Jorey Bailey, a sergeant with the Iowa City police, told the Des Moines Register that an armed robbery had taken place less than a block from the park and that Ekakitie had matched 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 said.
Bailey also told ESPN that the officers were in uniform and not undercover.
Ekakitie says he felt inclined to speak on the incident after recent events that have taken place in the nation involving the shooting of black men. He conceded that was thankful to be alive.
“The suspect could very well become another statistic on this day,” he said. “I am thankful to be alive, and I do now realize, that it very well could have been me, a friend of mine, my brother, your cousin, your nephew etc.”
He suggested that the atmosphere of terror and distrust between the public and police has been stirred up by the media.
“Today was the first time that I’ve ever truly feared for my life, and I have the media to thank for that.”
“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,” he wrote.
Ekatitie concluded his post by praising the Iowa City Police department for their professionalism in handling the situation, urging people to be more aware of their surroundings, and providing a final call to action:
“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.”