Merriman Case Handed to District Attorney

Tila “Tequila” Nguyen made a citizen's arrest on Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman

By Michelle Wayland
|  Wednesday, Sep 9, 2009  |  Updated 2:34 PM CDT
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No Charges Yet for NFL Star

Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman has not been charged yet while Tila Tequila denies reports she was drinking before the incident.

NFL's Shawne Merriman Accused of Choking Tila "Tequila"

San Diego Chargers star outside linebacker Shawne Merriman was arrested Sunday and accused of choking and restraining his girlfriend.
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The battery case against Shawne Merriman was handed over to the San Diego County District Attorney's Office on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the D.A. said they will "roundtable" to see if they'll actually file charges.

Tila Tequila's attorney is calling NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman's explanation of an altercation with the reality star that led to his arrest "spin." Attorney Alan S. Gutman says Merriman's public comments that he was trying to protect Tequila, who he thought was drunk, amount to another attack on his client. Gutman predicts Merriman's story will be discredited.

Merriman was arrested early Sunday after Tequila accused him of choking and throwing her while she was at the San Diego Chargers player's suburban San Diego home. Tequila signed a citizen's arrest warrant accusing Merriman of battery and false imprisonment.

Merriman is scheduled for arraignment September 15, even though the D.A. hasn't decided if it will file charges.

The Chargers player was taken into custody and booked into the central jail Sunday at about 8:30 a.m. He was released shortly after 11 a.m.

The linebacker’s lawyer talked briefly with reporters outside the San Diego County Jail downtown Sunday. He denied the allegations and claimed that Merriman and Tequila, whose real name is Tila Nguyen, were at a party at his client's Poway home with at least 14 other people.

“During the evening Ms. Tequila was extremely intoxicated, inebriated and Mr. Merriman did everything he could to assist her in arranging for transportation to leave his home. At no time did Mr. Merriman assault her; at no time did Mr. Merriman keep her against her will. His intentions were nothing but good,” Merriman’s attorney Todd Macaluso said.

Tequila requested an ambulance and was transported to Pomerado Hospital. She was released later that day. According to Pomerado Palomar Health, investigators requested Tequila's treatment and evaluation records. Tequila approved the request.

San Diego County Sheriff's spokesperson Jan Caldwell said Sunday that deputies confirmed that Tequila had been drinking.

Tequila 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.

On Monday, Tequila took to Twitter to deny she was drunk over the weekend. “I am allergic to alcohol,” Nguyen, who goes by Tila Tequila, tweeted on Monday. “It has been publicly known for years. That is how I got the name Tila 'Tequila' cuz of the irony."

"I can't drink.”

Stingaree management officials confirmed Sunday that Merriman and Tequila were at a birthday celebration with friends in the Penthouse of the nightclub until 2 a.m. when the nightclub closed. TMZ has posted photos of the couple partying inside the club.

“They seemed in good spirits throughout the evening and were enjoying themselves. There was no outward indication of any problem between the two of them," Stingaree spokesperson Lauren Clifford said.

The Chargers, picked by some as Super Bowl favorites, open the regular season on Monday night at Oakland. Players had been off since after Friday night's exhibition finale against San Francisco.

“It’s disappointing to hear about the issue involving Shawne Merriman.  We’ll continue to monitor the situation and let the legal process run its course,” General Manager of the San Diego Chargers A.J. Smith said in a statement released on Sunday afternoon.

Merriman practiced with the team Monday and said he's convinced he will be cleared of any wrongdoing.

OPINION: Lights Out for Shawne Merriman?

The Chargers have faced a string of negative publicity after several arrests.

Chargers defensive tackle Jamal Williams was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving on Feb. 1., but the San Diego City Attorney's office decided to charge him with misdemeanor reckless driving after his blood-alcohol level showed 0.07 percent, under the state limit of 0.08.

Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson was arrested for investigation of DUI on Jan. 6, five days before San Diego's playoff loss at Pittsburgh.

In 2006, there were seven run-ins with the law by Chargers players, including linebacker Steve Foley's shooting by an off-duty Coronado police officer who suspected him of drunken driving, and two other players who were arrested for investigation of DUI.

Besides the arrests, linebacker Shawne 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.

Merriman was the 12th overall pick out of the University of Maryland in the 2005 draft, and had 39 1/2 sacks in his first three seasons. The three-time Pro Bowl selection was getting back into shape after missing nearly all of last season following knee surgery.

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