An Arizona Border Patrol agent who called migrants “subhuman” and “mindless murdering savages” in messages to fellow agents has pleaded guilty to intentionally striking a Guatemalan migrant with his truck.
The agent, 39-year-old Matthew Bowen, was driving an agency pickup truck on Dec. 3, 2017, when he encountered Antolin Lopez Aguilar, a 23-year-old Guatemalan citizen who had illegally crossed the border that day. Bowen, who has been in Border Patrol for a decade, struck him twice with the front of the truck.
After being suspended after his indictment in May, Bowen pleaded guilty on Aug. 8 to a misdemeanor charge for violating the migrant’s rights, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Tucson on Monday reported by KNAU. He's facing up to $100,000 in fines and a year in prison and will have to resign, according to his plea deal.
When Bowen, who was formerly stationed in Nogales, Arizona, hit the migrant a second time, the truck came to a full stop inches away from him on the ground, according to the Arizona Daily Star. The agent then handcuffed Lopez Aguilar, handed him over to two agents who had arrived at the scene, and sped away, according to The Arizona Daily Star.
Lopez Aguilar was hospitalized for hand and knee abrasions and detained for 30 days for jumping the border fence, according to ThinkProgress.
Weeks after the incident, Bowen also sent a text message to a fellow agent that said “Guats are best made crispy, with olive oil from their native pais,” prosecutors wrote in court documents in May, according to Tucson.com.
In the investigation that followed Bowden slamming into Lopez Aguilar, the agent said he wasn’t certain he hit had hit the man and that he was only trying to get close enough to arrest him. The charge Bowen faced for lying to federal investigators was dismissed as part of his plea agreement, according to the Star.
Bowen will be sentenced on October 15.
A Customs and Border Control agent patrols on the US side of a razor-wire-covered border wall that separates Nogales, Mexico from Nogales, Ariz. Saturday, March 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)