San Diego DA reviewing domestic-violence accusations against Merriman

SAN DIEGO -- The District Attorney's Office on Wednesday began reviewing accusations of domestic violence that reality TV star Tila Tequila brought against San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman.

The DA will review reports from the San Diego County Sheriff's Department and decide if Merriman will be charged.

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Merriman was arrested early Sunday after Tequila accused him of choking and throwing her to the ground while she was trying to leave his home in suburban Poway. Tequila signed a citizen's arrest warrant accusing Merriman of battery and false imprisonment. Both are felonies.

Spokesman Paul Levikow said the DA's office can charge Merriman, reject the accusations or refer them to the San Diego City Attorney's Office for consideration as misdemeanors.

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 also has modeled for Playboy and other men's magazines.

Merriman and his attorney, Todd Macaluso, have said they expect him to be vindicated. Merriman issued a statement Sunday denying wrongdoing and saying he was trying to keep Tequila from leaving his home because she appeared to be intoxicated.

"I in no way caused any harm to Ms. Nguyen, however, paramedics were called and she was examined but no injuries were reported," Merriman's statement read.

On Tuesday night, Tequila's attorney called Merriman's explanation "spin" and predicted it would be discredited.

"It is never justifiable to brutally assault, choke, strike and imprison a woman," attorney Alan S. Gutman wrote. "Once the truth is fully revealed, Mr. Merriman's fantastic story of how he was trying to keep Ms. Tequila safe will be completely discredited."

Gutman didn't return calls seeking comment Wednesday. Merriman and Macaluso said they had no further comment.

When Merriman bailed out of jail Sunday, a court appearance was scheduled for next Tuesday. If no charges are filed, that appearance will be removed from the court calendar, Levikow said. If the DA's office hasn't decided by then, the appearance will be rescheduled.

Merriman, a three-time Pro Bowler, has been working his way back into shape after having season-ending knee surgery following the 2008 season opener.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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