Steeler Alameda Ta'amu given probation, community service in South Side DUI incident
Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu will spend 18 months on probation and must perform 150 hours of community service for drunken driving-related charges, an Allegheny County judge ruled Thursday.
Ta'amu, 22, must pay $11,000 in restitution and spend a weekend at the “DUI hotel,” where he will take alcohol highway safety classes and receive group behavior counseling and drug evaluations, said Common Pleas Judge Anthony M. Mariani.
“To the family of the police officers, I just want to say I'm sorry,” Ta'amu said.
Police charged the Steelers 2012 fourth-round draft pick with DUI, fleeing, aggravated assault and other offenses in the South Side on Oct. 14. A police officer in an unmarked car saw Ta'amu driving the wrong way down Fort Pitt Boulevard. The officer followed Ta'amu over the Smithfield Street Bridge and Carson Street, where he ran from police after striking four parked cars with his black Lincoln Navigator.
Ta'amu, whose blood alcohol level was 0.196 two hours after the accident, said he did not know the motorist following him was a police officer.
“I was a rookie, and I was scared. I was a Steeler, and I was drunk driving,” he said. “I wrecked my car, and I panicked.”
Mariani found Ta'amu not guilty of fleeing and eluding police officers because it was unclear to Ta'amu that it was an officer following him. Ta'amu said he thought it could have been an angry motorist.
“You shouldn't be treated any more harshly, but you shouldn't be dealt with a lighter hand because you're a Pittsburgh Steeler,” Mariani said.
Police said Ta'amu smelled of alcohol and had glassy, bloodshot eyes. Police said Ta'amu ripped one of his arms away when police tried to handcuff him, and fearing he might have a weapon, an officer hit him twice in the face with his fist.
The Steelers released the Kent, Wash., native about a month after the incident. They re-signed him before the end of last season.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said the team expressed its disappointment in Ta'amu's actions “and made it clear that it was not acceptable behavior.”
“We take these types of behavior very seriously, and Alameda is well aware of the standards he has to maintain to remain a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization,” Colbert said.
Robert Del Greco, Ta'amu's attorney, said his client enrolled in the National Football League's substance abuse program two days after his arrest and submits to urine tests two to three times a week. The NFL suspended Ta'amu for one game.
Del Greco said the episode cost his client more than $150,000, not including restitution or attorney fees.
“He said he was sorry and has expressed that sentiment ever since,” Del Greco said. “He is dedicated to making things right.”
Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.