The big sports and crime story this weekend involved San Diego Chargers' star football player Shawne Merriman and his television-star girlfriend Tila Tequila:
...Merriman was arrested early Sunday on suspicion of choking and restraining MTV reality show star Tila Tequila, police said.Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk scooped the mainstream media and posted Merriman's probable defense (trying to prevent his intoxicated girlfriend from driving) first.
Shawne Merriman is accused of restraining reality TV star Tila Tequlia as she tried to leave his home, police say.
However, Merriman's attorney denied the allegations, saying more than a dozen other people were at Merriman's house in suburban San Diego, California, at the time of the incident...
Authorities responded to a disturbance call about 3:45 a.m. Sunday from a woman who said she had been choked and restrained by a male, the sheriff's department of San Diego County, California, said in a statement.
When police arrived, "the reporting party identified herself as Tila Nguyen, aka Tila Tequila, and her alleged assailant as Shawne Merriman," the statement said.
"Nguyen told deputies she had been choked and physically restrained by Merriman when she attempted to leave his residence," the statement said.
Nguyen signed a citizen's arrest at the scene, and Merriman was taken into custody on suspicion of battery and false imprisonment, according to the statement.
Deputies didn't see any physical injuries on Nguyen, but she asked to be transported to a local hospital, sheriff's spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said....
Merriman's attorney, Todd Macaluso, told reporters that Nguyen was "extremely intoxicated and inebriated" and that the player tried to make arrangements for her to leave the house..."
Florio also had this interesting comment:
...The situation raises an interesting point regarding the lengths to which someone can or should go to stop someone else from driving drunk. In this case, Merriman will claim that he did not cross the line, and the other persons who were at his home are expected to testify to that end...So what is permitted by law for an individual to prevent another person who is believed to be intoxicated from operating a motor vehicle?
The answer will vary by jurisdiction. I would argue that, in general, unwanted physical contact against the potential driver could be enough to technically violate a law.
Now, I am saying that one should not grab the car keys away from an intoxicated friend? No, I am simply stating that an unwanted touching could be considered illegal.
Fortunately, this is where police officer and prosecutorial discretion enters into play. When I arrived at the scene of a disturbance and found a combative drunk who was being held down next to his car by friends preventing him from driving, the last thing on my mind was charging anyone doing the restraining.
In contrast, if I arrived at the same scene to find the guy on the ground with multiple broken bones and internal injuries, the "just trying to stop him from driving" story would have been much less persuasive.