NFL’s Merriman arrested, accused of choking Tila Tequila

September 8th, 2009 by

(CNN) — San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman was arrested early Sunday on suspicion of choking and restraining MTV reality show star Tila Tequila, police said.

However, Merriman’s attorney denied the allegations, saying more than a dozen other people were at Merriman’s house in suburban San Diego, California, at the time of the incident and “witness after witness after witness will back up his story 100 percent.”

Authorities responded to a disturbance call about 3:45 a.m. Sunday from a woman who said she had been choked and restrained by a male, the sheriff’s department of San Diego County, California, said in a statement.

When police arrived, “the reporting party identified herself as Tila Nguyen, aka Tila Tequila, and her alleged assailant as Shawne Merriman,” the statement said.

“Nguyen told deputies she had been choked and physically restrained by Merriman when she attempted to leave his residence,” the statement said.

Nguyen signed a citizen’s arrest at the scene, and Merriman was taken into custody on suspicion of battery and false imprisonment, according to the statement.

Deputies didn’t see any physical injuries on Nguyen, but she asked to be transported to a local hospital, sheriff’s spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said. Nguyen’s condition was not immediately known.

Merriman’s attorney, Todd Macaluso, told reporters that Nguyen was “extremely intoxicated and inebriated” and that the player tried to make arrangements for her to leave the house.

“At no time did Mr. Merriman assault her. At no time did Mr. Merriman keep her against her will,” Macaluso said. “His intentions were nothing but good. … We’re very confident that this matter will be resolved without any charges being filed whatsoever.”

Caldwell said alcohol “was involved” on Nguyen’s part. Caldwell didn’t elaborate.

Merriman was released from jail late Sunday morning. Caldwell said she didn’t know whether Merriman was released on bail or on his own recognizance.

The district attorney’s office will determine whether criminal charges will be pursued, Caldwell said.

As Tila Tequila, Nguyen starred on the MTV reality shows “A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila” in 2007 and “A Shot at Love 2 With Tila Tequila” in 2008.

On her Twitter account, Nguyen did not mention the incident but tweeted about going to meet Merriman on Saturday.

In a statement posted on the Chargers’ Web site Sunday, team General Manager A.J. Smith said it is “disappointing to hear about the issue involving Shawne Merriman.”

“We’ll continue to monitor the situation and let the legal process run its course,” Smith said.

Merriman, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, is entering his fifth year with the Chargers and the NFL. He recorded at least 10 sacks in each of his first three seasons, but he was limited to one game last season because of a knee injury that required surgery.

The Chargers begin their 2009 NFL regular-season campaign on September 14 in Oakland, California, for a game against the Raiders.

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