Border Patrol agent accused of hitting migrant with work vehicle

A Border Patrol agent accused of intentionally hitting a Guatemalan migrant with his government-issued vehicle in 2017 agreed to a plea deal in the case, according to court documents.

Agent Matthew Bowen admitted guilt in exchange for a misdemeanor charge and no more than one year in prison, court records show.

“On December 3, 2017, near Nogales, in the District of Arizona, I was on duty and acting as a United States Border Patrol Agent. On that day, I arrested A.-L.A. for unlawful entry into the United States,” says the statement from Bowen in an August 8 plea agreement. “During my apprehension of A.L.-A., I intentionally struck him with an unreasonable amount of force. My actions when I struck A.L.-A. were not justified and violated his rights protected by the Constitution of the United States.”

The maximum penalties for the misdemeanor violation are a fine of $100,000, one year in prison, or both and not more than one year of supervised release, according to the plea.

“Matthew Bowen resigned from the Border Patrol on August 8, 2019. CBP does not plan to comment until Mr. Bowen is sentenced and the case is fully adjudicated,” said Pete Bidegain III, a spokesman for Border Patrol Tucson Sector.

Neither Bowen’s attorney Sean Chapman nor the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona has responded to a request for comment.

He began working for Customs and Border Patrol in 2008. He had been placed on indefinite suspension without pay after his indictment in June 2018, according to the agency. The deal required Bowen to resign from Border Patrol.

Bowen was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he deprived the Guatemalan man of his civil rights and filed a false report for the incident.

Court records filed in US District Court in Tuscon allege that Bowen used his government-issued Ford F-150 to strike the victim in the back to stop him from fleeing.

Bowen admitted intentionally hitting the victim with his truck in a 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.”

The agent had sought to prevent prosecutors from introducing his text message at trial, court records show. But prosecutors argued that his text messages should be admissible because they show that he intentionally ran over the migrant with his service vehicle and then lied about the incident in a report.

Prosecutors also asked a judge to allow use of the text messages because they felt that they provided insight into Bowen’s mindset and how he approached his job.

In multiple text messages, Bowen allegedly expressed his discontent with the limitations of Border Patrol and his “disgust” with the migrants he encountered during work.

According to court records, Bowen sent a text to a fellow agent two weeks prior to the December incident that said, “mindless murdering savages. PLEASE let us take the gloves off trump!” He also wrote that migrants were “disgusting subhuman sh*t unworthy of being kindling for a fire,” court documents show.

Bowen is out on bail and has a sentencing scheduled for October 15, according to court documents.

CNN’s Keith Allen contributed to this report.