Iowa football player thanks police after they pull guns on him in case of mistaken identity

Iowa defensive linemen Faith Ekakitie, front, with Jaleel Johnson in 2013.

Iowa defensive linemen Faith Ekakitie, front, with Jaleel Johnson in 2013.  (AP Photo/Iowa City Press-Citizen, David Scrivner)

Faith Ekakitie awoke from his escape from the real world with police officers and their gun barrels staring him in the face.

The Iowa defensive lineman was playing a video game — Pokemon Go — in a park Wednesday when he was stopped by “approximately five” Iowa City cops with guns drawn in a case of mistaken identity.

Ekakitie, 23, detailed the entire incident on Facebook, giving a clear-headed version of his own and the police’s side of a nightmare in which he “feared for my life.”

The junior from Ontario, Canada, wrote that he was playing the game while headphones blared music in his ears when police, who were searching for a man fitting his description who had robbed a bank 10 minutes earlier, approached him from behind. The cops, unaware of his headphones, perceived his obliviousness as defiance.

“They quickly move to action and identify themselves as the Iowa City police and ask me to turn around and place my hands up,” he wrote Wednesday, adopting the vantage point of the police. “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.”

Ekakitie said he reached into his pockets for his phone — still unaware of the scene unfolding behind him — and realized in retrospect how close he came to becoming a statistic.

The police eventually got his attention, but Ekakitie had missed any warnings or identifications they offered previous. He had no idea who these people were — Iowa City police told ESPN the officers were in uniform — or why he was being held at gunpoint.

“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 actually thanked the police for acting professionally, saying “misunderstandings happen all the time,” while urging everyone, police and laymen, to “attempt to unlearn some of the prejudices that we have learned about each other.”

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