Steelers rookie involved in South Side chase apologizes to Pittsburgh police



PITTSBURGH - Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Alameda Ta'amu appeared in court Thursday on a list of charges following a chase through South Side last month.

The defensive lineman was arrested on charges of leading police on a chase while driving drunk on East Carson Street and crashing into parked cars, injuring at least two people.

Ta'amu apologized to Pittsburgh police after his hearing Thursday, where a judge downgraded an aggravated assault against a police officer charge to recklessly endangering another person.

The criminal complaint said police spotted a 2006 Lincoln Navigator going the wrong way on Fort Pitt Boulevard early Sunday morning, when the driver then crossed the Smithfield Street Bridge and ran a red light as he turned onto East Carson Street.

Police said the driver then crossed into opposing traffic, driving on the wrong side of the street for seven blocks, to pass several cars at a time on East Carson Street.

The criminal complaint said one officer dressed in full uniform yelled, "Police! Stop the vehicle." That officer then said the driver, later identified as Ta'amu, swerved toward him and nearly ran him over. Two other officers said they also spotted the car and drew their guns as the Navigator came at them, but neither of them fired "due to the large number of pedestrians and motorists on the sidewalks and roadway."

Police say Ta'amu took a sharp turn off of East Carson Street and onto South 14th Street. There, he allegedly hit four cars as police chased him.

A woman in one of those cars was hurt. Jenifer Kosko told Channel 11’s Alan Jennings that she was in her car with a friend when Ta’amu crashed into them.

“We were just having a good time, and at the end of the night we usually get pizza or gyros or something. So we were just sitting in my car eating pizza when it happened,” Kosko said.

Kosko suffered a black eye and swollen forehead in the incident. Her friend suffered a knee injury.

Police said the chase took another turn when Ta'amu hit a fifth car, totaling both vehicles.

Police said they ran toward him, and officers said Ta'amu then sprinted away from the car. Investigators said he took off his blue shirt to avoid being recognized.

When police caught up to him, they told him to get on the ground and put his hands behind his back.

According to the criminal complaint, one officer was concerned that Ta'amu was reaching for his waistband, so he punched him in the face. Police said they eventually got Ta'amu, who refused medical treatment, into handcuffs and took him to jail.

“He could have killed someone, especially down there with all of the pedestrians,” Kosko said.

Arresting officers said Ta'amu's breath smelled like alcohol, his speech was slurred and his eyes were bloodshot. Police said Ta'amu agreed to take a blood alcohol test, and he registered a blood alcohol content of .196 percent, more than twice the legal limit.

Ta'amu's attorney told Jennings that he is in counseling.