John Rabago and Reginald Ramones are both officers in the Honolulu Police Department. Both men have been arrested and indicted after they allegedly forced a homeless man to lick a urinal. Prosecutors says Rabago and Ramones violated the man’s civil rights. The officers say they did nothing wrong. Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Officers Were Responding to a Trespassing Call When They Met the Homeless Man
John Rabago and Reginald Ramones, along with two other officers, were responding to a trespassing complaint at a public restroom near Keeaumoku and Sheridan Streets, back in January 2018. When police arrived on the scene, they found Samuel Ingall, a 37 year old homeless man who was already well known to the police because of his long arrest record. According to prosecutors, police forced Ingall to put his mouth on a urinal in the public restroom. News reports say they also forced the man to lick the urinal. Local media reported that the FBI investigated all four of the officers, but so far only Rabago and Ramones have been charged.
Afterwards, one of the officers reported the incident to the department, which began an investigation. One week later, Honolulu Police Department chief Susan Ballard referred the case to the FBI. Ballard said she was “appalled” by the case. “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,” Ballard said. “Personally, I am appalled at the behavior, if it is true, and appropriate action will be taken.”
2. The Alleged Victim’s Family Says Police Also Forced Him to Sit in Urine & Pushed His Head Into the Toilet
The alleged victim, Samuel Ingalls, is a 37 year old homeless man. His sisters, Mary and Melody, say they spoke to him after the incident. They say that he actually suffered far more abuse than what was reported. They say he told them that cops forced him to sit in urine and then pushed his head into the toilet, holding it under water. They also said Ingalls had a big bruise on his arm where police had hit him with a stick.
“We know our brother. We know when he lies. We know when he’s being dishonest,” Mary Ingall said. “And he was very sincere and very detailed and it never changed, what he said.”
Ingalls says he often uses that public restroom because employees are willing to unlock it for him.
3. Rabago & Ramones Could Spend Ten Years in Jail if Convicted
Rabago and Ramones, both 43 years old, have been charged with one count of conspiring to deprive a person of his civil rights and another count of acting under color of law to deprive that person of his civil rights. If convicted, they could face a maximum sentence of ten years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000 for the conspiracy charge against them. They could also face up to a one year sentence and a fine of up to $100,000 if convicted of depriving the man of his rights.
4. Rabago’s Lawyer Says It Was All a Big Misunderstanding
Both Rabago and Ramones have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them. Rabago’s lawyer, Megan Kau, said that the charges were all the result of a big misunderstanding. Kau said that there had been a miscommunication and the scene and that it had been reported up the chain of command “like a game of telephone” which made the misunderstanding keep growing.
Rabago and Ramones are accused of forcing a homeless man, Samuel Ingall, to put his mouth on, and lick, a public urinal. They are charged with depriving Ingall of his civil rights. If convicted, they could spend up to ten years in jail and pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
5. Ingalls’ Mother Said He Struggled With Drugs & Needed Help from the Authorities
Rabago and Ramones allegedly forced a 37 year old homeless man named Samuel Ingalls to lick a public urinal. Samuel Ingalls’ mother, Charity Ingall, told Hawaii News Now that her son is troubled and that he needed all the help he could get from authorities. She said that the way police treated her son was an “abomination.”
Charity Ingalls, who lives in Pennnsylvania, said that her son has struggled with drug abuse for years. She said that back in 2016, he was released from jail and went to live in a homeless shelter, vowing to stop using drugs and get an honest job. But, Charity said, it was almost impossible for her son to go straight, since he didn’t have any form of legal identification. In Hawaii, ID is required for rent an apartment and to apply for a job.
Five days after being released from jail, Samuel Ingalls was in the hospital, recovering from a crystal meth overdose.