University of Iowa DL Faith Ekakitie detailed a harrowing experience while he was playing Pokemon GO in a park recently that could have gone very wrong, if not for cooler heads by everyone involved. Taking to Facebook — Ekakitie described a run-in with police in which he had four guns drawn on him while he was attempting to play the game — oblivious to the danger inches away.
Ekakitie admitted that he was wearing headphones amid the confusion — leading to him initially fearing for his life.
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. This is what happened from my point of view.
Ekakitie says he wrote the post on Facebook, to describe his experience — but to also point out the restraint and precaution used by the police.
Ekakitie’s hope was that the media wouldn’t mix-up the details or leave out the fact that he was wearing headphones — going on to thank the police for their handling of the situation.
From the police officers point of view, all they knew was that a bank had just been robbed less than ten minutes ago. The suspect was a large black male, wearing all black, with something on top of his head and the suspect is 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.
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 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, and I do now realize, that it very well could have been me, a friend of mine, my brother, your cousin, your nephew etc. 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.
So with that, I would like the 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. 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.
The broad and stereotypical description of the suspect could have made thing murky — as authorities stated that Ekakitie fit the typical profile of a black robbery suspect: “a large black male, wearing all black, with something on top of his head.”
Thankfully, police didn’t shoot before doing their due diligence — or overreact to the big defensive lineman not responding because of his headphones.