Iowa Football Player Mistaken for Robber During ‘Pokemon Go’ Game in Park
Police released bodycam footage showing an encounter last week between a black University of Iowa football player and officers who were looking for a robbery suspect.
The video was released Tuesday and shows defensive end Faith Ekakitie being stopped and searched by police in Benton Hill Park in Iowa City on July 20. Police said Ekakitie had matched the description of a suspect involved in an armed robbery just 10 minutes earlier.
The incident was first described by Ekakitie in a Facebook post the same day of the encounter. Ekakitie said it was “the first time that I’ve ever truly feared for my life,” but added that the police handled the situation “very professionally” once they realized that he was not the suspect.
At the beginning of the nearly seven-minute-long video, an officer can be heard telling Ekakitie to put his hands up while they approached him. The same officer could also be heard saying “It’s probably not you, but we’ve got to double check.”
Ekakitie wrote that he was playing “Pokemon Go” in a public park when he was surrounded by police “with four gun barrels staring me in the face.” Ekakitie said he feared for his life but understood why police did what they did.
He admitted he was wearing headphones while playing the popular mobile app and didn’t hear when officers initially approached him. An officer could also be heard telling another officer that Ekakitie did have his headphones on.
“I was actually playing Pokemon Go, believe it or not,” Ekakitie said while being searched. “I believe it, actually,” the officer replied.
After the officers check Ekakitie’s ID, one thanks him for his cooperation.
“Within two minutes of the initial contact, officers determined that Mr. Ekakitie was not the suspect.” The Iowa City police department said in a statement. “Officers then explained why they had detained him. After routine checks to verify Mr. Ekakitie’s identify were completed, officers left the park.”
“I would also urge people to be more aware of their surroundings because clearly I wasn’t,” admitted Ekakitie.
Photo: City of Iowa City