Former Police Officer Jailed For 4 Years For Making Homeless Man Lick Urinal
A former Honolulu police officer has been given a four year prison sentence after forcing a homeless man to lick a public urinal.
John Rabago, who was sentenced on Wednesday, July 15, pleaded guilty back in December to civil rights violations following the January 2018 incident.
Rabago, 44, and another ex-officer, Reginald Ramones, encountered the man while responding to a nuisance complaint. He had been taking shelter in the public restroom when Rabago told him, ‘If you lick the urinal you won’t get arrested’.
You can find out more about this story in the following news report:
As per the Associated Press, Rabago threatened to beat the man and also told him he would stuff his face down a toilet if he didn’t lick the urinal.
Rabago then proceeded to grab the man’s shoulder, holding him down and stepping on his legs to keep him down on his knees until he was forced to lick the urinal.
Rabago reportedly later told Ramones to delete text messages which discussed the incident, according to US District Judge Leslie Kobayashi.
Handing down the sentence Judge Kobayashi asked Rabago to imagine somebody treating his two young daughters in this way, stating:
You took from him his only possession: his dignity as a human being.
Emphasising that Rabago had sworn an oath as a police officer to protect and defend, but had instead taken advantage of somebody who was poor and homeless, Judge Kobayashi said:
I’m here to judge you on the worst thing you’ve done in your life.
However, the judge did note that Rabago should not let the act define his future going forward. Rabago had reportedly previously laughed about the incident – and then denied it – but he has now shown some remorse, apologising to the victim and his family.
Two years ago I made a decision I’m not proud of. My actions changed the course of life for all of us.
Assistant US Attorney Tom Brady said:
To be homeless, not knowing where your next meal is going to be, to be forced to lick … a dirty urinal by a uniformed police officer. There’s only one word that comes to mind: hopelessness.
Speaking after the hearing, Rabago’s defence attorney, Megan Kau, stated that she and Rabago expected a sentence of about three years, asserting that Judge Kobayashi was ‘taking the national environment and making him an example’.
Kau stated that ‘this is not the same’, noting that Rabago is Filipino American whilst the unnamed victim is white.
The homeless man filed a lawsuit against the Honolulu Police Department and the city earlier this year, and is said to be ‘pleasantly surprised that the court punished him appropriately’.
His lawyer, Myles Breiner, said:
He was under the impression that they would coddle him and give him a minimum term, a very low sentence.
The other officer connected with this incident, Reginald Ramones, is also no longer with the Honolulu Police Department, and his sentencing has been scheduled for next week.
Ramones has pleaded guilty to not informing authorities after knowing Rabago had committed a civil rights violation.
If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58 and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.
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