SAN DIEGO – San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman was arrested Sunday and accused of choking and restraining his girlfriend, reality TV star Tila Tequila, as she tried to leave his Southern California home.
Tequila, 27, signed a citizen’s arrest warrant, charging Merriman with battery and false imprisonment, San Diego County Sheriff‘s Lt. Gary Steadman said.
Deputies responded about 3:45 a.m. to Merriman’s house in Poway, north of San Diego, after a woman called to say she was choked by the player and physically restrained when she had tried to leave, according to a Sheriff’s Department statement.
Merriman, 25, was taken into custody. Authorities declined to say whether he had posted bail or been released, pending an afternoon news conference.
Tequila was taken to a hospital. Her condition was not immediately available.
Tequila, whose real name is Tila Nguyen, is best known for “A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila,” which ran for two seasons on MTV. The bisexual dating show featured men and women vying for Tequila’s affections. She has also modeled for Playboy and other men’s magazines.
Scott E. Leemon, an attorney for Tequila, said in a statement that neither she nor her representatives would comment publicly on the incident.
Merriman’s agent, Tom Condon, said he hadn’t heard about the arrest when contacted by The Associated Press.
Chargers general manager A.J. Smith didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
Merriman was the 12th overall pick out of the University of Maryland in the 2005 draft, and had 39.5 sacks in his first three years. The three-time Pro Bowl selection was getting back into shape after missing nearly all of last season with a knee injury. He played little during pre-season games. The Chargers’ season begins a week from Monday night at Oakland.
Smith often speaks of signing “character” players, yet the Chargers have had their share of off-field problems in recent seasons.
In 2006, there were seven run-ins with the law by San Diego players, including linebacker Steve Foley’s shooting by an off-duty police officer who suspected him of drunken driving.
Merriman was suspended four games for testing positive for steroids in 2006, and linebacker Stephen Cooper was suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the 2008 season after testing positive for a banned stimulant.
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