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Police officer pleads guilty after telling homeless man to choose between jail or licking a urinal

A Honolulu police officer who told a homeless man that he could avoid jail if he licked a urinal has pleaded guilty to conspiring to deprive the man of his civil rights.

John Rabago, 43, pleaded guilty to the charge on Monday, The Washington Post reported. The incident occurred in January 2018.

Former Honolulu police officer Reginald Ramones, also 43, pleaded guilty in September to a lesser charge of withholding information about a crime. He promised at the time to testify against Rabago. Both men initially pleaded not guilty in April.

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According to the plea agreement, Rabago apprehended 37-year-old Samuel Ingall in a public bathroom and “in an aggressive tone” told Ingall that the only way that he wasn’t going to jail was if he licked the urinal.

Rabago first claimed that he was joking and that his words were misconstrued. Ramones later testified that Rabago was being serious with his threat.

Ingall believed Rabago to be serious and licked the urinal. After letting Ingall go, Rabago reportedly laughed with other officers outside the bathroom at what he made Ingall do, the Post reported.

“He was forced to essentially do something that’s disgusting,” Ingall’s attorney, Myles Breiner, told KHON in April.

“His face was forced into a urinal,” Breiner added. “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.”

A federal investigation of the incident was launched when one of the officers who was outside the bathroom reported it to his supervisors.

In his September plea deal, Ramones said that Rabago had him close the bathroom door when he arrived on the scene to avoid a security camera and then later texted him instructions on how to lie to investigators about what happened.

Rabago and Ramones are scheduled to be sentenced in February. Both could be hit with fines of up to $250,000. Ramones, who according to the Post quit the Honolulu Police Department in August, could face up to three years in prison, although prosecutors are expected to only recommend probation.
 
Rabago faces a more serious charge of up to 10 years in prison. He has been on administrative leave and is expected to be fired, the Post reported.

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