Iowa defensive lineman Faith Ekakitie wrote that he “feared for my life” when stopped by police in a park Wednesday while playing the popular mobile game “Pokemon Go” in a case of mistaken identity.
Ekakitie wrote in a Facebook post that approximately five Iowa City police officers stopped him and four guns were pointed at him as police searched for a suspect who had robbed a nearby bank 10 minutes earlier.
“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,” 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 said he did not initially respond to police orders to stop because he was approached from behind and was wearing headphones.
“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,” Ekakitie wrote. “The suspect had actually just pulled up to the park because he was playing a newly popular Game called Pokémon Go. The suspect didn’t realize that there were four cops behind him because his music was blaring in his ears. 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.
“I am not one to usually rant on Facebook or anywhere else, but with all of the crazy things that have been happening in our world these past couple of weeks it is hard to stay silent. I am thankful to be alive.”
Sgt. Jorey Bailey of the Iowa City Police Department told ESPN that police stopped a man named Faith Ekakitie because he matched the description of the robber, who is also black and was also dressed in black clothes. Bailey said the officers were not acting undercover and were wearing police uniforms.
A University of Iowa spokesman confirmed Ekakitie’s Facebook account and the contents of his post.
In his Facebook post, Ekakitie thanked the officers for acting professionally and encouraged people to be more aware of their surroundings.
“Pokemon Go” is a game in which players go to different locations to find virtual characters that appear on their cellphones. It has become a phenomenon since its release earlier this month.
Ekakitie, a senior, played in 12 games last season, recording 13 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss, and one fumble recovery.
ESPN’s Darren Rovell and Dan Murphy and The Associated Press contributed to this report.