Former Hawaii officer convicted of making man lick urinal

A former Honolulu police officer was sentenced to four years in prison for forcing a homeless man to lick a public urinal.

HONOLULU – A United States judge sentenced a former Honolulu police officer to four years in prison on Wednesday for forcing a homeless man to lick a public urinal, telling him to imagine someone doing that to his two young daughters.

The homeless man was as helpless and helpless as the children of the defendant John Rabago, said US District Judge Leslie Kobayashi.

“You took away his only possession: his dignity as a human being,” said Kobayashi.

Rabago had sworn in as a police officer to protect and defend, but instead took advantage of someone poor and homeless, he said.

Rabago, 44, and another officer had responded to an annoying complaint in 2018 when they found the homeless man at a stall in a public toilet.

Rabago threatened to hit the man and put his face in the toilet if he didn’t lick the potty, Kobayashi said. She then grabbed the man’s shoulder, held him and stepped on his legs to keep him on his knees until he licked the potty, the judge said.

Rabago later told the other officer to delete text messages about the incident, Kobayashi said.

“I am here to judge you for the worst thing you have ever done in your life,” said Kobayashi. However, she noted that he must not let the act define his future.

Reginald Ramones, the other officer, also left the department and is scheduled to be sentenced next week. Ramones pleaded guilty to knowing that Rabago committed a civil rights violation and failing to inform the authorities about it.

Assistant United States Attorney Tom Brady said Rabago had sometimes been a good officer and ultimately took responsibility by pleading guilty to a couple of civil rights violations in the case, but he had initially laughed at the incident and later denied it happened.

“Being homeless, not knowing where their next meal will be, being forced to lick … a dirty urinal by a uniformed police officer. I can only think of one word: hopelessness, “said Brady.

Rabago apologized to the victim and her family. “Two years ago I made a decision that I’m not proud of,” he said. “My actions changed the course of life for all of us.”

Her defense attorney, Megan Kau, said after the hearing that she and Rabago were awaiting a sentence of about three years.

“I think he is taking the national environment and setting an example,” Kau said of the judge and protests against racial injustice and police misconduct across the country.

“This is not the same,” Kau said, noting that Rabago is Filipino-American and the victim is white.

Earlier this year, the homeless man filed a lawsuit against the Honolulu Police Department and the city.

“He is pleasantly surprised that the court has appropriately punished him,” said his attorney, Myles Breiner. “He had the impression that they would pamper him and give him a minimum term, a very low sentence.”