A traffic stop on the South Side this morning led to the arrest of a Pittsburgh Steeler who is accused of trying to flee police. A woman was injured and several vehicles were damaged in the incident, according to a police affidavit.
Facing a series of felony and misdemeanor charges is rookie defensive lineman Alameda Ta'amu, who was a fourth-round draft pick this year. The reserve nose tackle is 22 and is from Kent, Wash.
He was taken into custody after a police chase by multiple officers who had to restrain him with a double set of handcuffs.
An emergency dispatch supervisor said a stop was initiated by police at about 2:30 a.m. today on 14th Street after a vehicle was spotted moving in a reckless manner. Mr. Ta'amu fled and was apprehended at Sarah Street, but not before he had crashed his 2006 Lincoln Navigator into several other vehicles, the dispatcher said.
According to court documents, Mr. Ta'amu is facing felony counts of fleeing police, aggravated assault while driving drunk and three counts of aggravated assault for nearly running down three police officers. He also was charged with 10 misdemeanors, including resisting arrest, attempting escape, drunken driving and failure to obey traffic laws.
The police affidavit indicated that a woman named Jenifer Kosko sustained "serious bodily injury." Ms. Kosko, 22, of Plum, said in an interview this morning she has "a big lump on the head."
The document described an incident that began to unfold when an off-duty detective in his personal vehicle noticed that the vehicle he was following along East Carson Street was moving in a reckless manner. He contacted police, noting "the vehicle was swerving across the double-yellow lines...and passing several vehicles at a time. The vehicle was running red lights and speeding in the East Carson entertainment district, which has thousands of intoxicated pedestrians walking on the streets and sidewalks."
Alerted to the situation, a fully-uniformed officer who was working an off-duty detail at an East Carson Street bar spotted the vehicle, drew his handgun, and shouted at the driver to halt. Mr. Ta'amu swerved his vehicle, nearly running over the officer. Mr. Ta'amu then sped away in the wrong lane of traffic and the officer pursued on foot.
Meantime, the affidavit notes that two other uniformed officers working off-duty details at local bars drew their guns and gave multiple commands for Ta'amu to stop. Both officers had to dive out of the way to avoid being run over, the document indicates.
As Mr. Ta'amu was being pursued by multiple officers on foot, he crashed his vehicle into a parked car, injuring the driver, Ms. Kosko. Police said she had heavy swelling to her head and was transported to UPMC Mercy from which she was later released.
Mr. Ta'amu continued fleeing while screaming officers pursued on foot. His Navigator collided with two more parked cars, causing one to crash into a third parked vehicle.
The incident ended when Mr. Ta'amu's vehicle struck yet another car, finally disabling the Navigator.
Police said Mr. Ta'amu exited his vehicle and began fleeing on foot though officers were screaming that he was under arrest, the affidavit reads. As he sprinted away, he removed his shirt, which police said was an attempt to evade officers.
Four officers caught up to him in a parking pad next to 38 Uxor Way and ordered him to the ground. As a handcuff was placed on one wrist, though, Mr. Ta'amu "ripped his opposite arm away...then tucked the arm along his body and appeared to be reaching with his free hand toward his waist band." He refused to put his arm behind his back so an officer punched him twice in the face then used two sets of handcuffs to restrain him.
Police said that, due to his "extremely large size," Mr. Ta'amu was transported by police wagon to the Allegheny County Jail. He stands 6-feet, 3-inches tall and weighs 348 pounds, according to the Steelers website.
Police said a strong odor of alcohol was detected. Testing showed he had a blood-alcohol level of 0.196 percent.
Ms. Kosko said in an interview that she and a friend were sitting in her parked car, with Ms. Kosko in the driver's seat, when suddenly there was a crash.
"We were just sitting there eating pizza in the car when it happened," she said.
She was taken to the hospital where was evaluated then released. "I'm fine. I've just got a big lump on the head," she said. Her passenger did not require medical treatment.
Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert issued a statement today saying: "We are disappointed to hear about the situation regarding Alameda Ta'amu. We will gather more facts before providing any further comment."
Karen Kane: email@example.com or at 724-772-9180. First Published October 14, 2012 12:00 PM