Two Honolulu police officers were arrested and charged with one count of conspiring to deprive a person of his civil rights after forcing a homeless man to lick a urinal in a public restroom on January 28, 2018.
Or go to jail.
Officers John Rabago and Reginald Ramones both pleaded not guilty in court Friday afternoon before being released on $25,000 bonds.
Each of the officers faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Rabago’s attorney, Megan Kau, says it’s a case of one person making claims that aren’t true.
“This is not a complicated case,” she said. “This is a case of one man saying that two police officers forced him to a lick a toilet bowl.”
However, the victim, 37-year-old Samual Ingall, never reported the crime.
The incident was reported to a lieutenant by a sergeant, who responded to the incident.
The lieutenant forwarded the report to the police chief.
A week later, Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard forwarded the case to the FBI.
“Our officers are sworn to uphold the right of all persons, and I expect every officer to treat every member of the public fairly and with respect. Personally, I am appalled at the behavior, if it is true, and appropriate action will be taken,” she told the Star Advertiser.
It happened when the officers responded to a trespass complaint after someone called 911. After responding, officers Rabago and Ramones came in contact with Ingall, who struggles with mental illness and homelessness.
Ingall’s attorney, Myles Breiner, says the officers told Ingall they wouldn’t arrest him if he licked the urinal.
“He was forced to essentially do something that’s disgusting. His face was forced into a urinal. The police officers thought this was amusing. It wasn’t as though he was doing anything illegal but they chose to do this to him because he was vulnerable,” Breiner said.
Video footage outside of the bathroom doesn’t actually show what happened inside the public restroom.
“It does show him being detained by the officers and it does show him being, I would say, compelled to stay in the bathroom until he was allowed to leave by the officers,” Breiner pointed out.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Honolulu Division.
The case is being prosecuted by attorneys Timothy Visser of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Hawaii Thomas Brady.
Each of the officers faces the possibility of a maximum fine of $250,000 in addition to a maximum of 10 years in prison for the conspiracy charges.