Steelers defensive lineman Alameda Ta'amu, left, with defensive line coach John Mitchell
By Karen Kane Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Steelers defensive lineman Alameda Ta'amu was charged with multiple felony and misdemeanor counts early Sunday after fleeing from police in his SUV and striking several other vehicles on the South Side.
A woman was injured and several vehicles damaged, according to a police affidavit.
Mr. Ta'amu, 22, of Kent, Wash., a rookie who was drafted in the fourth round this year, was taken into custody after a chase by several officers who used two sets of handcuffs to restrain him.
An emergency dispatch supervisor said a stop was initiated by police at about 2:30 a.m. on South 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 faces felony counts of fleeing police and 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.
Mr. Ta'amu posted $25,000 bail Sunday.
The police affidavit indicated that a woman named Jenifer Kosko sustained "serious bodily injury." Ms. Kosko, 22, of Plum, said Sunday 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 erratically. 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 uniformed officer who was working an off-duty detail at a bar on East Carson 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.
Two other uniformed officers working off-duty details at bars drew their guns and ordered Mr. Ta'amu to stop. Both officers had to dive out of the way to avoid being run over, the affidavit said.
As several officers chased on foot, Mr. Ta'amu crashed 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. 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 and began running as officers screamed that he was under arrest. As he sprinted away, he removed his shirt, which police regarded as an attempt to evade them by changing his appearance.
Four officers caught up to him in a parking area next to 38 Uxor Way and ordered him to the ground. As a handcuff was placed on one wrist, 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 waistband." 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 is 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, more than twice the legal threshold for intoxication.
Ms. Kosko said 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. Her passenger did not require medical treatment.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert issued a statement saying: "We are disappointed to hear about the situation regarding Alameda Ta'amu. We will gather more facts before providing any further comment."