Shawne Merriman Arrested, Accused Of Choking Tila Tequila

San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman was placed under citizens arrest Sunday by television reality show hostess and model Tila Nguyen, and accused of choking her, a spokeswoman for the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said.

Deputies responded around 3:45 a.m. to the 25-year-old Merriman's house in the 12000 block of Sage Crest Drive in Poway, after a woman called to say she was choked by the player and physically restrained when she had tried to leave, said Jan Caldwell of the Sheriff's Department.

"She said she was in the home and tried to leave and Merriman stopped her, threw her to the ground and choked her," Caldwell said.
Nguyen, who has also appeared on pornographic Web sites as Tila Tequila, signed a citizen's arrest complaint accusing Merriman of battery and false imprisonment.

The woman, who is under 5 feet tall, was taken to Pomerado Hospital.

"From what I understand, she was not seriously hurt. She was able to talk, able to walk," Caldwell said.

Because of the citizen's arrest, deputies were obligated to take Merriman into custody, she said. He was booked into the Central Jail at 8:31 a.m. and freed at 11:09 a.m., though the sheriff's spokeswoman didn't know whether he posted bond or was released on his own recognizance.

Detectives will interview several other people who were in Merriman's house and witnessed the alleged incident, and it will be up to the San Diego County District Attorney's Office to decide on issuing charges, Caldwell said.

Merriman was working his way back into playing shape after missing nearly all of last season with a knee injury. He played sparingly during the exhibition season, which ended Friday, and had four tackles and no sacks.

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 Bowler is considered the linchpin of the Bolts defense, and his absence last year was a major reason behind the 8-8 regular season record.

The Chargers released a two-sentence statement from General Manager A.J. Smith.

"It's disappointing to hear about the issue involving Shawne Merriman," Smith said. "We'll continue to monitor the situation and let the legal process run its course."

The Chargers begin the 2009 regular season Sept. 14 in a nationally televised game at Oakland.

While a fierce leader of the Chargers defense when healthy, Merriman had largely stayed out of trouble during his years in San Diego. But he was suspended for four games in 2006 for steroid use.

After the Witch Creek Fire roared through Rancho Bernardo in 2007, he started a construction company that was responsible for the first house to be rebuilt, which was finished in February of last year.

A month later, his Mercedes Benz coupe, worth $180,000, was found torched in the Emerald Hills section of San Diego.

According to postings on his Twitter site -- in which he's very active -- he spent Saturday promoting his "Lights Out" clothing line at a Sports Fan outlet in Mission Valley, and reacted several times to Maryland's 52-13 season- opening loss at Cal.

Caldwell said Merriman and Nguyen spent time at a nightclub, but she didn't know which one.

Downtown San Diego nightclub Stingaree, released the following statement Sunday: "Stingaree can confirm that Shawne Merriman and Tila Tequila arrived at Stingaree on Saturday evening together and joined a birthday celebration with friends already going on in the Penthouse. Merriman and Tequila stayed until closing in the early hours of Sunday morning. 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."

Caldwell said, "There was alcohol involved, definitely on the part of Ms. Nguyen."

The woman told deputies she consumed alcohol during the night, according to Caldwell.

Nguyen, 27, was the hostess of "A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila" for two seasons on MTV, and photo spreads of her modeling have appeared in a number of men's magazines. She set a record on with 1.4 million friends.

According to the Internet Movie Database, her real name is Thien Thanh Thi Nguyen, and she was born in Singapore and raised in Houston. There, she rebelled against her strict upbringing by taking heroin at the age of 11 and running away to New York City at 16, according to IMDb.

The Web site said she was discovered at a mall by a scout for Playboy soon after she graduated from high school.

She appeared as a Hooters girl in the 2007 film "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry."