Two Honolulu police officers have been indicted for civil rights violations for allegedly forcing a man to put his mouth on a public urinal. The officers were arrested this morning and made their first appearance in federal court.
The attorney for one of the officers tells me the incident never occurred. She says the officers were joking about it when a sergeant misunderstood and reported it.
The alleged incident happened in January of last year at a public restroom on Sheridan Street. There were five police officers at the scene including a sergeant responding to a call. The attorney for the alleged victim Sam Ingall who is homeless, says the officer told Ingall they wouldn’t arrest him if he licks 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,” said Myles Breiner, Sam Ingall’s attorney.
Officers John Rabago and Reginald Ramones have been indicted by a grand jury for two counts of federal civil rights offenses. The maximum penalty is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
“The officers were joking around or said something to the affect of licking a toilet bowl and a sergeant who is now retired from the Honolulu Police Department took it the wrong way,” said Megan Kau, John Rabago’s attorney.
There is video surveillance footage outside of the bathroom so it does not actually show what happened inside.
“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,” said Briener.
Kau says the fact that it took over a year to indict the two officers shows there were problems with the credibility of the story.
“I believe that the government had to work him or convince him or coerce him into giving his statement which is why now a year and a couple of months later we have this federal dictment,” said Kau.
Both officers plead not guilty to the charges.