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Football Player Arrested for Choking Tila Tequila

San Diego Chargers star outside 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 suburban 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.

Both are felonies.

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 thrown to the ground when she tried to leave, Sheriff's Department spokesman Jan Caldwell said at a news conference.

Merriman's attorney, Todd Macaluso, disputed Tequila's story and said he's confident Merriman won't be charged by the District Attorney's Office.

"There was absolutely no wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Merriman," Macaluso told the Associated Press by phone. "He essentially was doing what was appropriate under the circumstances in trying to protect the safety of Miss Tequila. There were numerous eyewitnesses that will support his version of the events that transpired at his home."

Merriman, 25, was taken into custody and booked into the central jail at about 8:30 a.m. He was released shortly after 11 a.m.

Tequila was taken to a hospital. Her condition was not immediately available.

Caldwell said deputies determined Tequila had been drinking.

Asked if Merriman was trying to keep Tequila from driving drunk, Macaluso said: "We don't want to comment on her conduct. The bottom line is, he did everything in his power to ensure her safety. He hopes she comes forth and tells the truth."

Caldwell said she wasn't sure if Merriman had been drinking. Macaluso said witnesses he spoke with said Merriman had ordered water three or four times when his group was at a downtown San Diego club before going to his house. The attorney said none of Merriman's teammates were at his house.

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.

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