Seahawks linebacker Tatupu arrested for drunken driving

Updated: May 13, 2008, 8:47 PM ET
Associated Press

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks Pro Bowl linebacker Lofa Tatupu was arrested early Saturday morning for investigation of drunken driving.

Lofa Tatupu

Tatupu

Police in Kirkland, the suburban home of the Seahawks' headquarters and practice facility, reported Tatupu registered blood-alcohol levels of .155 and .158 in breath test readings -- nearly twice the legal limit in Washington. Those tests came almost 90 minutes after the 25-year-old cornerstone of Seattle's defense was handcuffed and driven to the police station.

"I want to apologize to my family, teammates, the Seahawks ownership and organization, and the fans for making a poor decision and putting myself in a bad situation," Tatupu said in a statement released by the team Tuesday.

"I take seriously my role as a leader on this team, and in the community, and because of that I'm disappointed and embarrassed by the level of poor judgment I used last weekend."

The arrest, first reported Tuesday by Seattle radio station KJR-AM, could be an issue for Tatupu and the Seahawks up to training camp in July.

"Lofa intends to handle this situation in a manner consistent with his reputation for integrity and leadership," Jon Scott Fox, who is representing Tatupu in the case, said in a statement. "We understand that Lofa fully cooperated with the police investigation and conducted himself as a gentleman throughout the incident."

A spokeswoman in the records division of the Kirkland Police Department said Tuesday the department had completed its investigation. A spokeswoman for the private firm with which the city of Kirkland contracts to prosecute said her office had not received the police report as of Tuesday. She said that generally it takes a couple of weeks for charging decisions to be made on such DUI cases.

The arrest is particularly embarrassing to the Seahawks, who have held up Tatupu as the example to which they want others players to aspire. In March they gave him a new contract worth $42 million that could keep him in Seattle through 2015.

"How could I want anything else?" Tatupu said then.

Team president and general manager Tim Ruskell, who traded up to take Tatupu in the second round of the 2005 draft, also has heaped praise on the former Southern California star.

"He epitomizes for us what a Seahawk should be," Ruskell said the day Tatupu signed his new contract.

The police report said an officer parked in his patrol car just after 2 a.m. Saturday observed Tatupu driving a 2006 Hyundai in excess of 50 mph in a 35 mph zone on a main city street and making erratic lane changes without signaling.

The officer pursued Tatupu for a few blocks before the linebacker made an abrupt left turn from a center lane without signaling into the entrance of a fast-food restaurant. The officer apprehended Tatupu while he was waiting in the drive-thru lane. He reported a "strong odor" of alcohol emanating from the vehicle, which was carrying four passengers.

The arresting officer said Tatupu's eyes were bloodshot and watery and "his speech was noticeably slurred." The officer said Tatupu repeatedly denied consuming alcohol immediately before driving.

Repeated attempts to reach Tatupu's agent, Fletcher Smith, on Tuesday were unsuccessful.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press