Just when the legal insanity surrounding Michael Vick and Plaxico Burress had come to a close, the NFL’s off-field scandal bin got a fresh restocking this weekend. San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Shawne Merriman was arrested Sunday morning on suspicion of choking and physically restraining his girlfriend, reality TV star Tila Tequila, real name Tila Nguyen (no relation to Dat, though that would be neat if it there were).
NBCSanDiego.com and KABC Los Angeles said police got a call at 3:45 a.m. on Sunday from a woman who claimed to have been choked and restrained by a male at a home on Sagecrest Drive in Poway.
"Nguyen told deputies she had been choked and physically restrained by Merriman when she attempted to leave his residence," Public Information Officer Jan Caldwell said.
Merriman was charged with battery and false imprisonment.
Soon after the arrest, Merriman issued a statement to FOX’s Jay Glazer and the rest of the media, denying that he harmed Tequila, and contending that he was trying to prevent Tequila from leaving her home because she was drunk and attempting to get in her car and drive, though I can think of better ways to prevent someone from drunk driving than allegedly wrapping your hands around their throat and restricting blood flow to their brain.
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"On September 6, 2009 the San Diego Sheriff's Department responded to a citizen's complaint that was initiated by Tila Nguyen (aka Tila Tequila). I was taken into custody based upon that complaint. At the time, I was concerned about her welfare given the intoxicated state she appeared to be in and I encouraged her to stay until safe transportation could be provided.
"We would all do our best to help a friend if we considered their actions to be detrimental to their personal safety. I in no way caused any harm to Ms. Nguyen, however, paramedics were called and she was examined but no injuries were reported. She was released and has since returned to Los Angeles, California.
"There have been no charges filed against me. I want to thank the San Diego Sheriff's Department for their professionalism. I will continue to cooperate fully with the Department, and I look forward to clearing my name regarding these false allegations. I want to put this behind me so I can continue to focus on a successful season for the San Diego Chargers."
Because Tequila made a citizen’s arrest of Merriman, SDPD was required to formally arrest the NFL star. Tequila admitted to deputies that she was drinking on the night in question. TMZ has photos of Tequila lap dancing for Merriman at a club that night. The photos prove nothing, but they DO have lap dancing, so there’s that.
Though Merriman contends he has not been formally charged with assault, he still could be. In the court of public opinion, Merriman seems to be getting the benefit of the doubt, in no small part because of his girlfriend’s reputation. Tequila openly pretended to be bisexual for an MTV reality show, and she’s built a career out of drawing attention to herself without having accomplished anything. In fact, the arrest has seemingly given many people online an excuse to trash Tequila with some pretty ugly, misogynistic remarks. Just check the comments under the original FOX news story if you don’t believe me. Or wait an hour and check under this post. They’re everywhere, I tell you.
Don’t expect Merriman to be suspended by the NFL unless formal charges are filed. For now, Merriman is free to open the season with the Chargers. But this incident, regardless of how it plays out, will likely prove to be even more distracting than the ugly blue Mohawk currently atop the star’s head. The Chargers can’t be too pleased about that. Tequila has yet to comment on the matter.