Two Hawaii police officers were arrested on Friday for allegedly forcing a homeless man to lick a urinal in a public bathroom. Honolulu police chief Susan Ballard told local broadcast station KITV that the arrests “cast a dark shadow” on her department.
Want daily pop culture news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo’s newsletter.
Officers John Rabago and Reginald Ramones were accused of depriving the man of his civil rights when they responded to a trespassing complaint last year. When they came across the homeless man, they allegedly forced him to put his mouth on a urinal.
Rabago and Ramones each face up to 11 years in prison and a $350,000 fine, and both pleaded not guilty in federal court on Friday, NBC News reports.
“Something that started as a joke or a miscomment was turned into a federal case,” Megan Kau, an attorney for Rabago, told USA Today. “We plan on going to trial immediately because I don’t believe that this complainant is credible.”
Another Honolulu officer first reported the alleged incident last year, and the department turned the case over to the FBI, according to NBC. Reports indicated that Rabago and Ramones were placed on unpaid leave, but Kau told Yahoo Lifestyle that wasn’t the case. The two men have collectively served 27 years on the force.
“I ask that the public please continue to support the officers who carry out their daily assignments with courage, integrity and respect for the public,” Ballard said in a statement to KITV. “The two officers who were arrested will have their day in court and be held accountable for their actions.”
Myles Breiner, an attorney for the homeless man, told KITV that “justice delayed is justice denied.”
“This happened over a year ago,” Breiner said.
Yahoo Lifestyle has reached out to Breiner for further comment.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- Program allows students to stay in school on Friday nights, principal hasn’t lost a student to gun violence all year
- School district removes doors from bathroom stalls, girls allegedly forced to bring blankets from home for privacy
- Burger King under fire after social media users claim new ad featuring chopsticks is ‘racist’