Border patrol agent calls migrants ‘subhuman’ and ‘savages’ in text messages, court papers say
A Border Patrol agent who was accused of intentionally knocking down a Guatemalan migrant with his government-issued vehicle in 2017 sent a text message to a colleague calling migrants “mindless murdering savages,” according to court documents.
Agent Matthew Bowen was indicted by a federal grand jury in May of 2018 on charges that he deprived the Guatemalan man of his civil rights and filed a false report in the December 3, 2017, incident. Bowen used his Ford F-150 to strike the victim in the back to stop him from fleeing and arrest him for unlawful entry into the country, a misdemeanor, according to court documents filed in US District Court in Tucson earlier this month.
Bowen pleaded not guilty to the charges, according to local media reports. Bowen admitted to intentionally hitting the victim with his truck in December 4, 2017 text message to a fellow agent, according to court papers.
“I used an f150 to do a human pit maneuver on a guat running from an agent,” Bowen wrote.” Just a little push with a ford bumper.”
Customs and Border Protection declined to comment on the case, according to a spokesperson.
“US Customs and Border Protection stresses professionalism, honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission. CBP has a diverse workforce of dedicated men and women who carry out their duties with the highest standards of professionalism,” the agency said in a statement.
“As stated in CBP’s policy statement, discrimination and harassment are not and will not be tolerated,” the statement said.
Bowen’s lawyer could not be reached Monday evening.
Bowen had sought to prevent prosecutors from introducing his text message at his trial, which is scheduled to start August 13, according to court papers.
But prosecutors argue Bowen’s text messages should be admissible in court because they show that he intentionally ran over the migrant with his service vehicle, and then lied about the incident in a report. Prosecutors are also asking a judge to allow use of the text messages because they feel they provide insight into Bowen’s mindset and how he approaches his job.
Bowen sent multiple text messages “expressing discontent with Border Patrol’s limitations” on how agents can apprehend migrants, and his “disgust” with the migrants he encounters in his professional role, according to court records.
Bowen “also voiced great disdain” for undocumented immigrants, prosecutors said in court papers.
According to court records, Bowen sent a text to a fellow agent two weeks before the December incident that said: “mindless murdering savages. PLEASE let us take the gloves off trump!” In that message, the agent also wrote that migrants were “disgusting subhuman sh*t unworthy of being kindling for a fire,” court documents show.
The next day, Bowen sent a message to the same agent calling the government a “failed system,” the court records show.
Bowen also wrote: “this is a failed agency its sad bc BP does really important work but we are treated like sh*t, prosecuted for doing what it takes to arrest these savages and not given appropriate resources to fully do our job,” according to court papers.
If the text messages are admitted, Bowen’s attorney, Sean Chapman, said he would try to show “the use of these terms is 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 mindset,” according to court papers.
Chapman wrote in a filing earlier this month that how Bowen refers to migrants in specific text messages “does not aid the jury in determining whether he, on this occasion, set out to use excessive force to apprehend the alleged victim.”
“Text messages using such language is not admissible because Mr. Bowen’s alleged ‘disdain’ for aliens is not relevant to the issues before the jury,” Chapman wrote.
Bowen, who started working for the Border Patrol in 2008, was placed on indefinite suspension without pay in June 2018 after his indictment, according to the CBP.