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Iowa DL Faith Ekakitie Held at Gunpoint by Police While Playing 'Pokemon Go'

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIJuly 24, 2016

IOWA CITY, IA - SEPTEMBER 5:  Defensive lineman Faith Ekakitie #56 of the Iowa Hawkeyes faces off in the fourth quarter against offensive lineman Kyle Avaloy #77 of the Illinois State Redbirds on September 5, 2015 at Kinnick Stadium, in Iowa City, Iowa.  (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)
Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Iowa Hawkeyes defensive lineman Faith Ekakitie was stopped and searched by Iowa City Police on Wednesday, with four officers holding him at gunpoint.

Ekakitie wrote about the situation on Facebook, and his account of the events began getting attention over the weekend.

Ekakitie said he fit a suspect profile for a recent armed robbery but was simply playing Pokemon Go, had his headphones on and didn't realize cops were approaching him:

Today was the first time that I've ever truly feared for my life, and I have the media to thank for that.

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.

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 Pokemon 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.

To close his post, Ekakitie thanked the Iowa City Police for being professional and handling the situation well after the initially aggressive approach.

He also implored others to pay more attention to their surroundings and "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."

As Marc Morehouse of the Gazette reported, police responded to the robbery at 1:53 p.m. local time Wednesday. According to the release Morehouse cited, the investigation into the case is ongoing.

Ekakitie is a senior-to-be who appeared in 12 games last season and tallied 13 total tackles and 0.5 sacks, per CFBStats.com.

Many athletes have recently spoken out about violence involving police officers.

NBA players LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul opened the ESPY Awards with an introduction that called for a stop to gun violence.

The WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, New York Liberty and Indiana Fever wore black warm-up shirts to raise awareness of the issue. All three teams and the participating players were initially fined, but WNBA President Lisa Borders announced Saturday that the league had withdrawn the fines, per ESPN.com.

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