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.
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, 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. Caldwell said she didn't know if he posted bail or was released on his own recognizance.
Tequila was taken to a hospital. Her condition was not immediately available.
Caldwell said deputies determined Tequila had been drinking. She said she wasn't sure about Merriman. Caldwell said there were other people at the house, but wasn't sure if any of Merriman's teammates were there.
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 didn't return two e-mails seeking comment. His agent, Tom Condon, said he hadn't heard about the arrest when contacted by The Associated Press.
Caldwell said the sheriff's department will turn over the results of its investigation to the District Attorney's office, which will determine whether to charge Merriman.
There had been considerable Twitter chatter between Tequila and Merriman during the last two months. She tweeted several times about going to the Chargers' game Friday night and a party she held afterward at a downtown club, including:
_ "Im the Head Cheerleader Prom Queen and (at)shawnemerriman is the Prom King! hahaha! LETS GOOO! LIGHTS OUT! SAN DIEGO I WILL SEE U TOMORROW!"
Merriman was the 12th overall pick out 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.
The Chargers, picked by some as Super Bowl favorites, open the regular season a week from Monday night at Oakland. Players had been off since after Friday night's exhibition finale against San Francisco. They are due back at practice on Monday.
"It's disappointing to hear about the issue involving Shawne Merriman," Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said in statement. "We'll continue to monitor the situation and let the legal process run its course."
Smith didn't return a call seeking further comment.
Smith often speaks of signing "character" players, yet the Chargers have had their share of embarrassing 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.
Smith reportedly has been unhappy with Merriman's extracurricular activities, and there's been speculation the Chargers will let him leave when he's eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. Merriman has various business ventures and is enamored with the Los Angeles social scene. While on injured reserve last year he flew back and forth to Los Angeles once a week to appear on a football preview show.
Associated Press Writer Christopher Weber in Los Angeles contributed to this report.