A former Honolulu police officer who forced a man to lick a urinal in a public bathroom was sentenced Wednesday to four years in prison.
John Rabago pleaded guilty in December to civil rights violations stemming from the January 2018 incident during which Rabago told the man that, “If you lick the urinal you won’t get arrested.”
Rabago and another officer were responding to a nuisance complaint when they encountered the man, who was homeless, taking shelter in the public restroom.
U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi said during Rabago’s sentencing that the ex-officer had abused his power as a law enforcement official and took advantage of the man.
“You took from him his only possession: his dignity as a human being,” Kobayashi said.
Rabago, 44, expressed remorse and apologized to the victim and his family.
“Two years ago I made a decision I’m not proud of,” he said. “My actions changed the course of life for all of us.”
Reginald Ramones, the other former officer in the case, is to be sentenced next week after pleading guilty to knowing about Rabago’s civil rights offense but not informing authorities.
Prior court documents allege Ramones stood in the doorway during the incident, propping open the door, then closed it so the officers wouldn’t be caught on video.
Kobayashi said Rabago threatened the man, saying he would beat him and push his face into the urinal if he did not lick it. He held his legs down and grabbed his shoulder.
Rabago later told the other officer to delete text messages about the incident, Kobayashi said.
In February, Samuel Ingall, the man involved in the incident, sued the Honolulu Police Department and the city.
Ingall alleged that Rabago followed him out of the bathroom and laughed as he told other officers about Ingall licking the urinal.
Ingall’s attorney, Myles Breiner, said his client was “pleasantly surprised that the court punished him appropriately.”