Chargers’ Merriman denies hurting reality TV actress

Staff And Wire Reports

San Diego Chargers star linebacker Shawne Merriman said he did not harm reality TV actress Tila Tequila at his home early Sunday and added he was concerned for her safety because she appeared to be intoxicated.

Merriman was arrested and accused of choking and throwing Tequila to the ground as she tried to leave his home in suburban Poway. Tequila signed a citizen’s arrest warrant charging Merriman with battery and false imprisonment. Both are felonies.

Merriman spent about 2 1/2 hours in the downtown jail before posting bail.

Merriman practiced Monday, then said he is convinced he will be cleared. It will ultimately be up to the district attorney’s office to decide whether he will be charged.


“I think when it all surfaces, it will be a different situation. Period,” said Merriman, who described Tequila as an acquaintance.

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.

Merriman said he was limited in what he could say. He kept referring to a statement issued through his attorney Sunday night.

“I in no way caused any harm to Ms. Nguyen; however, paramedics were called and she was examined but no injuries were reported,” the statement said.


“It’s kind of a tough situation where you think you’re doing the right thing,” Merriman said Monday. “I’m glad that everyone was safe at the end of the day. I don’t think I will regret that part.”

Scott E. Leemon, an attorney for Tequila, didn’t respond to an e-mail asking for comment on Merriman’s statement.

Also Monday, the owner of a downtown club where Merriman and Tequila attended a party Saturday night said his staff told him Tequila had been drinking and it appeared Merriman had ordered only bottled water.

“I feel sorry for the guy and I think the truth needs to be told,” said James Brennan, who owns Stingaree, one of the city’s top hangouts for celebrities.

Merriman said he met Monday morning with team President Dean Spanos and Coach Norv Turner.

“They’re just all supportive, hopefully that we can move on from the situation as soon as possible,” Merriman said.


Gasol struggles in Spain’s loss


Serbia used a stingy defense to upset world champion Spain, 66-57, on the opening day of the European basketball championship at Warsaw.

Looking like one of the formidable Yugoslav teams of old, the young Serbian squad without any NBA stars thoroughly outplayed a lackluster Spain, clamping down on a Spanish attack led by Lakers forward Pau Gasol.

Gasol, who is coming off minor surgery on his left index finger after injuring it last month, struggled throughout the game to find his range. The Lakers star shot four for 10 from the field, and made only one of eight free throws to finish with nine points.

The owner of the Memphis Grizzlies and the team’s staff met with Allen Iverson, moving closer to a deal bringing the veteran guard to a young team.


Schumacher wins in top fuel at Indianapolis

Tony Schumacher raced to his eighth victory at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis at the U.S. Nationals, tying Don Garlits for the most top fuel wins at the historic track.

Schumacher, who has been to the last eight final rounds at this event and 10 overall since he began his career at this race in 1996, powered to his fourth victory of the season and 60th of his career.


He had a time of 3.861 seconds at 314.17 mph in his dragster to hold off rival Larry Dixon, who trailed with a 4.208 at 228.58 in his dragster.

Ashley Force Hood, Jeg Coughlin and Hector Arana also were winners of the final regular-season event in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.

Force Hood won in funny car, Coughlin in pro stock and Arana in pro stock motorcycle.


Coach resigns over tests on Semenya

A South African track coach has resigned, saying that he and other officials failed a world-champion runner by not telling her she was being subjected to tests to determine her sex.

Wilfred Daniels’ comments contradicted statements from Athletics South Africa officials who have accused the IAAF, track and field’s international governing body, of publicly humiliating world 800-meter champion Caster Semenya while denying any responsibility on their part. The South African officials have said tests were done only abroad, not in South Africa.

Athletics South Africa President Leonard Chuene told the Associated Press that Daniels’ statements were “wild allegations.”

He and Daniels said they were still awaiting an IAAF ruling on Semenya’s sex -- and future as a runner.