Iowa defensive lineman Faith Ekaktie was mistakenly stopped by police at gunpoint this week.
In a Facebook post, Ekaktie detailed the events, noting that he was playing Pokémon Go on his phone with headphones in at a park in Iowa City when he was stopped by “approximately five” officers and searched at gunpoint. He said the officers initially did not identify themselves as such, and that he was approached from behind while reaching into his pocket for his phone and did not hear their orders to stop at first.
Iowa City police confirmed to ESPN that Ekaktie had been stopped because he matched the description of a suspect who had robbed a bank just ten minutes earlier: a black man wearing black clothes. He noted the officers were wearing police uniforms. An Iowa spokesman confirmed Ekaktie’s post to ESPN as well.
“I am not one to usually rant on Facebook or anywhere else,” Ekaktie wrote, “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.”
Ekaktie also thanked the police department for their conduct during the incident.
“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.”