On Nov. 20, 2017, Border Patrol agent Matthew Bowen rage-texted his colleague about their professional inability to stop migrants: “Mindless murdering savages. PLEASE let us take the gloves off trump!”
“Disgusting subhuman shit unworthy of being kindling for a fire,” the 39-year-old Arizona agent said in another text to a colleague who at the time was facing criminal charges for allegedly shooting an unarmed Mexican teenager through a fence.
Two weeks later, Bowen allegedly hit a Guatemalan man with a government truck and then lied about it in a report, according to a court document filed last month in U.S. District Court in Arizona. The filing was first revealed Sunday by the Arizona Daily Star.
Federal prosecutors alleged that the text messages demonstrate Bowen’s history of racial tirades and “great disdain” for the migrants he is responsible for apprehending and asked permission to use the messages in the agent’s August trial.
Bowen’s defense attorney, Sean Chapman, argued in a May filing that his client’s sentiments are actually “commonplace throughout the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector,” adding that his texts are “part of the agency’s culture.”
“[The texts] could be perceived as racist or offensive," Chapman wrote in a May 5 filing, adding they would not help a jury determine “whether [Bowen], on this occasion, set out to use excessive force to apprehend the alleged victim.”
In another text message sent on Nov. 21, Bowen allegedly ranted to another colleague how Border Patrol was a “fucking failed agency” because “we are treated like shit, prosecuted for doing what it takes to arrest these savages, and not given appropriate resources to fully do our job.”
“I feel like I would def miss certain aspects of it,” said Bowen, who joined as an agent in 2008. “The chase of hunting down shitbags with your crew, defeating somebody who thought they were faster than you.”
On Dec. 3, 2017, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection camera operator spotted Antolin Lopez Aguilar, a 23-year-old Guatemalan native suspected of having jumped the border fence, sprinting to a nearby gas station. Bowen and two other agents immediately responded in separate vehicles, according to the federal indictment, and found Lopez hiding under a semi-truck.
While one agent exited his car to approach Lopez, Bowen allegedly circled the station in “his government-issued Ford F-150 truck” and "accelerated aggressively" when the migrant tried to run back toward the border, hitting Lopez twice from behind. According to prosecutors, Lopez was treated at the hospital and sentenced to 30 days in federal prison for the misdemeanor of entering the country illegally.
Prosecutors say that Bowen later filed a false report about what happened that morning, claiming he had been unfamiliar with the car he was driving and wasn’t certain if he actually hit the Guatemalan native.
The day after the crime, however, Bowen “admitted he intentionally hit” Lopez with his truck in a text message to another agent, claiming he just did “used a F-150 to do a human pit maneuver on a guat running from an agent.”
“A ‘human pit maneuver’ is not a recognized enforcement term,” the filing states.
Three days after the incident, Bowen texted a fellow border agent, saying if he had tackled Lopez, he would still be writing up the incident in “memos and shit.”
“I wonder how they expect us to apprehend wild ass runners who don’t want to be apprehended,” Bowen bemoaned.
After he was indicted in May 2018, Bowen was put on indefinite leave without pay. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges of deprivation of rights under color of law and falsification of records in a federal investigation. His lawyer and the Tucson Sector of the Border Patrol did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.