- Nogales Border Patrol Agent Matthew Bowen is accused of striking 23-year-old Antolin Lopez, a Guatemalan man, with his car while apprehending him near the US-Mexico border.
- He was indicted in May 2018 on charges of depriving the Guatemalan man of his civil rights under colour of law and falsifying records.
- Prosecutors are asking a judge for text messages as evidence that Bowen had “great disdain” for people he apprehended as part of his job with Border Patrol.
- He called migrants ‘subhuman’ and ‘savages’ in texts sent weeks before the incident, the court documents said.
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A Border Patrol agent who is accused of hitting a Guatemalan man with his truck in 2017 then lying in a report about the incident called migrants ‘subhuman’ and ‘savages’ in texts sent weeks earlier, prosecutors said in court documents seen by the Arizona Daily Star.
The texts were part of a filing in US District Court in Tucson Arizona, in the case of Nogales Border Patrol Agent Matthew Bowen.
Bowen was indicted in May 2018 on charges of depriving the Guatemalan man of his civil rights under colour of law and falsifying records following the December 2017 incident, in which prosecutors say hit 23-year-old Antolin Lopez Aguilar with his Border Patrol vehicle while apprehending him in Nogales, Arizona.
Bowen has been on indefinite suspension with the US Customs and Border Protection agency since his indictment.
Prosecutors are asking a judge to use text messages as evidence that Bowen had “great disdain” for people he apprehended as part of his job with Border Patrol.
Bowen’s attorney, Sean Chapman, said that some of Bowen’s texts could be seen as “racist or offensive” but told the judge in court documents they would not be of use to a jury.
In one text seen by the Daily Star, Bowen suggested that migrants are “disgusting subhuman s— unworthy of being kindling for a fire.”
In another, sent to Border Patrol Agent Lonnie Swartz, who had been acquitted of manslaughter in the death of an unarmed 16-year-old Mexican boy, Bowen said: “PLEASE let us take the gloves off trump!”
He also referenced “tonks,” a derogatory term for border-crossing migrants.
Chapman told the Washington Post Bowen’s use of “tonks” was “commonplace throughout the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector, that it is part of the agency’s culture, and therefore says nothing about Mr. Bowen’s mind-set.”
In another exchange, Bowen was asked by an unidentified person: “Did you gas hiscorpse (sic) or just use regular peanut oil while tazing?? For a frying effect.”
Bowen responded: “Guats are best made crispy with an olive oil from their native pais,” using a derogatory term for Guatemalans, and the Spanish word for country, pais.
In a text to Swartz after the December 2017 incident, he said he had given “a little push with a ford bumper” when he struck Lopez Aguilar with his vehicle.
Bowen has pleaded not guilty to charges of civil rights violations and falsifying records.
The December 3, 2017, incident happened around 7:30 a.m., when a CBP camera operator spotted a man jumping over a border fence near the Mariposa entry, later identified as Lopez Aguilar.
When Lopez Aguilar tried to run away after being told to surrender, Bowen reportedly struck the 23-year-old and knocked him to the ground, according to an affidavit by a Department of Homeland Security official seen by Reuters. Lopez Aguilar suffered cuts to his hand and knees and was arrested.
Bowen is also accused of filing a false report about the incident in which he said he was unfamiliar with the truck’s acceleration, according to the affidavit seen by Reuters.
His trial is expected to start on August 13.
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