A former Hawaii police officer who forced a homeless man to lick a public urinal was sentenced to four years in prison Wednesday, according to multiple reports.
U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi told defendant John Rabago that he took an oath as a police officer, but instead took advantage of someone poor and homeless. She asked him to imagine the same thing being done to one of his two daughters.
“You took from him his only possession: his dignity as a human being,” Kobayashi said.
Rabago, 44, the former Honolulu police officer, pleaded guilty on December 16 to depriving Samuel Ingall, 37, of his civil rights. The Jan 2018 incident unfolded after Rabago and another officer responded to a nuisance complaint about Ingall being in a bathroom in a Honolulu shopping area.
Rabago told the man, "If you lick the urinal, you won’t get arrested," according to reports. He held Ingall down and stepped on his legs until he licked the urinal, the judge said.
“I’m here to judge you on the worst thing you’ve done in your life,” Kobayashi said.
The other officer, Reginald Ramones, left the department in August and pleaded guilty to a lesser charge -- that he knew Rabago committed a civil rights violation but didn't inform authorities. He's scheduled to be sentenced next week. Kobayashi said that Rabago later told Ramones to delete text messages about the incident.
Defense attorney Megan Kau said in December that Rabago was "very remorseful, which is why he took responsibility," according to Hawaii News Now.
Kau said that after the hearing, she and Rabago expected a sentence of roughly three years.
"I think she’s taking the national environment and making him an example," Kau said about the judge and the protests against racial injustice and police misconduct across the nation. She argued it wasn't the same because Rabago is Filipino American and the victim is white.
“Two years ago I made a decision I'm not proud of," Rabago said when apologizing to the victim and his family. “My actions changed the course of life for all of us.”
Ingall sued the Honolulu Police Department and the city earlier this year, claiming the officers forced him to lick the public urinal to avoid being arrested.
The Associated Press contributed to this report