A Honolulu police officer who humiliated a homeless man by forcing him to lick a public urinal to get out of an arrest is going to prison for the federal civil rights crime.
U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi on Wednesday sentenced 44-year-old John Rabago to four years behind bars, bringing the more than two-year-long federal court case to an end.
“You took from him his only possession: his dignity as a human being,” Kobayashi said to Rabago during his sentencing.
Rabago’s misconduct took place in January 2018 when he and his partner responded to a call about a man trespassing into a closed public bathroom. Rabago and Officer Reginald Ramones showed up to find Samuel Ingall, a homeless man, in the bathroom, and Ingall, hoping to get out of the impending arrest, told the officers he’d do anything to avoid jail time.
Rabago took the opportunity and told the man to lick a urinal or else he’d stuff his face into a toilet and beat him, according to testimonies from Ingall and Ramones. After forcing Ingall to his knees, stepping on his legs and demanding that he lick the urinal, Ingall reluctantly complied with the cop’s orders. Ingall also alleges that the officer forced him to sit in urine and stuffed his face into a toilet anyway before leaving him alone.
Rabago was arrested a few months later after Ingall’s siblings reported the details to police. From there, an officer flagged the crime for review by the FBI. Though he initially claimed that he was kidding when he demanded Ingall comply with his demands, Rabago pleaded guilty to the crime last December.
Ramones admitted this wasn't the first time he saw his partner abuse homeless people. He also said Rabago wanted him to lie about the incident in court in order to help him avoid prison time and asked that he delete text messages related to what happened that day. Ramones has since left the police force.
“Two years ago I made a decision I’m not proud of,” Rabago said in court, apologizing to the victim and his family. “My actions changed the course of life for all of us.”
Cover: In this Thursday, June 11, 2015 photo, homeless people and their tents line a canal in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Cathy Bussewitz)
This article originally appeared on VICE US.