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Seahawks LB Tatupu arrested for investigation of drunken driving

  • By Associated Press
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KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks Pro Bowl linebacker Lofa Tatupu has been arrested for investigation of drunken driving and has apologized for "making a poor decision."

Lofa Tatupu , LB
Seattle Seahawks

2007 Statistics
Tackles: 109
Interceptions: 4
Sacks: 1

Police in Kirkland, the Seattle suburb that is headquarters to the team, reported that Tatupu registered breath test readings showing alcohol levels of .155 and .158 -- nearly twice the .08 legal intoxication threshold in Washington. Those tests came almost 90 minutes after the 25-year-old cornerstone of Seattle's defense was handcuffed and driven to a police station early Saturday.

A spokeswoman in the records division of the Kirkland Police Department said Tuesday the department had completed its investigation. A spokeswoman for the private firm with which the city of Kirkland contracts to prosecute said her office had not received the police report as of Tuesday. She said that generally it takes a couple of weeks for charging decisions to be made on such DUI cases.

"I want to apologize to my family, teammates, the Seahawks ownership and organization, and the fans for making a poor decision and putting myself in a bad situation," Tatupu said in a statement released by the Seahawks. "I take seriously my role as a leader on this team, and in the community, and because of that I'm disappointed and embarrassed by the level of poor judgment I used last weekend. Thankfully, nobody was hurt. This will never happen again, and I hope through hard work on and off the field to begin earning your respect and trust again."

The arrest is particularly embarrassing to the Seahawks, who have held up Tatupu as an example for other players. In March they gave him a new $42 million contract extension as proof.

"Lofa intends to handle this situation in a manner consistent with his reputation for integrity and leadership," Jon Scott Fox, who is representing Tatupu in the case, said Tuesday in a statement. "We understand that Lofa fully cooperated with the police investigation and conducted himself as a gentleman throughout the incident."

Team president and general manager Tim Ruskell has called his shrewd selection of Tatupu "one of my favorites of all time." Seattle traded up in the second round of the 2005 draft to take the supposedly too-small, too-slow prospect out of Southern California.

"He epitomizes for us what a Seahawk should be," Ruskell said the day Tatupu signed his new contract.

Mike Holmgren, who is entering his 10th and final season as Seattle's coach, often calls Tatupu "a special young man."

The police report said an officer parked in his patrol car just after 2 a.m. Saturday observed Tatupu driving a 2006 Hyundai in excess of 50 mph in a 35 mph zone on a main city street and making erratic lane changes without signaling. The officer pursued Tatupu for a few blocks before the linebacker made an abrupt left turn from a center lane, without signaling, into the entrance of a fast-food restaurant. The officer apprehended Tatupu while he was waiting in the drive-thru lane. He reported a "strong odor" of alcohol emanating from the vehicle, which was carrying four passengers.

"I asked Tatupu why he had been driving so fast," the officer wrote. "He stated that one of his friends really had to go to the bathroom.

"I told Tatupu that his friend would not have been able to go in the drive thru."

The arresting officer said that Tatupu's eyes were bloodshot and watery and "his speech was noticeably slurred." The officer said Tatupu repeatedly denied consuming alcohol immediately before driving. Tatupu's car was impounded, and at the police station he waived his right to consult with an attorney.

Repeated attempts to reach Tatupu's agent, Fletcher Smith, were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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