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Hawaii ex-police officer sentenced for forcing a man to lick urinal

Andrew Cuomo

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

John Rabago, 44, was charged with one count of conspiring to deprive a person of his civil rights and one count of acting under color of law to deprive the same individual of his civil rights. He pleaded guilty to both charges in December, according to court records.

The judge sentenced Rabago to three years in prison for the first charge and one year for the second, the sentencing document shows. The terms will be served consecutively. He was also sentenced to three years of supervised release once he is released from prison, the same document said.

Rabago’s attorney, Megan Kau, said she was concerned over the length of the sentence.

“It seems to be a reaction to what’s going on in the nation regarding racism in the police forces on the mainland,” Kau told CNN.

“Nothing — zero evidence — was presented to even give anyone the slightest idea that it was based on race,” Kau added.

Rabago resigned from the Honolulu Police Department months before his sentencing, Kau said.

Rabago and another officer responded to a nuisance complaint in January 2018 when they found a homeless man in a stall in a public restroom, the indictment, filed in April 2019, said.

Then, with another officer standing in the doorway of the bathroom, Rabago, “in an aggressive tone,” told the man that he “could only avoid arrest if he licked the urinal in the bathroom,” a court filing says. Eventually, the second officer left, leaving Rabago in the restroom alone with the victim, court records said.

The homeless man “then reluctantly knelt down before the urinal and licked the urinal,” court records said.

“Defendant Rabago then allowed (the man) to gather his possessions and leave the bathroom,” according to the records.

Reginald Ramones, the other officer, pleaded guilty in September to knowing Rabago committed a civil rights violation and failing to report it, a statement from the Department of Justice said. Ramones also admitted that he witnessed a separate and unrelated incident prior to January 2018 in which Rabago made another person place their head in a public bathroom toilet in order to avoid arrest, the statement added.

Ramones is still awaiting sentencing. Rabago is set to report to prison on August 28, Kau said.

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