Things That Matter

He Intentionally Drove His Truck Into A Migrant And Now This Border Patrol Agent Gets Off With Simple Probation

Matthew Bowen, a border patrol agent who frequently went on racist tirades and who plead guilty to purposefully driving his car into a migrant in Arizona, was sentenced to three years probation. In a court filing, Bowen admitted to intentionally striking into 23-year-old Antolin Lopez-Aguilar, a Guatemalan man who Bowen believed jumped the border fence. 

After a years-long investigation, text messages were uncovered that showed him lamenting his inability to use harsher tactics because the laws prevented him from doing so. Some feel as though three months of probation is just a slap on a wrist for the violent act. 

The judge had harsh words for Bowen but a light sentence.

“I want you to remember this,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Ferraro told Bowen during the federal sentencing hearing. “I can’t ignore the seriousness of this offense. Nationally, people are complaining about ICE and Border Patrol and the job that they do. Your conduct reinforces their stereotypes and makes it much more difficult for your colleagues to perform their duties. It only takes one incident like this to really undermine things.” 

On December 3, 2017, Bowen hit Lopez-Aguilar with his Border Patrol Truck as a way to stop him from crossing the southern border illegally after a camera operator spotted him possibly jumping a fence near Nogales, Arizona.

While Lopez-Aguilar was not able to attend to the hearing, prosecutors say he believed he was going to die during the attack. Moreover, he was unable to receive treatment for the various injuries to his hands, knees, and back and still experiences ongoing pay. 

Bowen admitted to the incident dismissing it as poor judgment as opposed to a vendetta against immigrants which court documents and prosecutors suggest. 

“I made a mistake in judgment by choosing to bump him with my vehicle. I’m thankful he was not seriously injured, and I would like to apologize to the victim sincerely and also to the court,” Bowen said in court. 

Prosecutors said Bowen “accelerated aggressively,” and hit Lopez-Aguilar twice, almost running him over the second time. After the incident, Lopez-Aguilar was charged with unlawful entry into the U.S. and sent to Tuscan by prisoner transport, according to the Washington Post. Prosecutors accused Bowen of filing a false report about the incident on the same day. 

“Chasing a guat with an f150 and accidentally bumped him at like 7 mph,” he wrote in a text the next day. “Just a little push with a ford bumper.” 

Border Patrol agents drive government-issued Ford F-150 trucks. 

The trial reveals documents showing Bowen referring to immigrants as “savages.” 

Prosecutors discovered text messages prior to the attack where Bowen referred to migrants as “subhumans,” “mindless murdering savages,” and said he was upset the laws didn’t allow him to do his job which was “hunting down sh-t-bags with your crew.” 

In another text message, he said agents were treated unfairly and “prosecuted for doing what it takes to arrest these savages.” In another message, Bowen said, “Guys are being made to think any use of force results in you being investigated and so they are letting tonks get away with too much.” 

Bowen’s lawyer Sean Chapman argued that his text messages weren’t racist but rather taken out of context because allegedly there exists a context where calling immigrants savages, subhumans, and tonks is not racist. 

“There have been claims in the media that Mr. Bowen made racist comments about the immigrant community, and it’s simply not true,” Chapman said.

In another series of texts, Bowen called immigrants unworthy of being fire kindling. 

“PLEASE let us take the gloves off trump!” Bowen said in a text. “Disgusting subhuman sh-t unworthy of being kindling for a fire.”

Bowen pleads guilty to striking Lopez-Aguilar intentionally. 

“In the court filing, Bowen admits he ‘intentionally struck [the migrant] with an unreasonable amount of force’ and said his actions ‘were not justified and violated [the migrant’s] rights protected by the Constitution of the United States’,” according to the Washington Post

Bowen pled guilty to the crime in August and resigned from the agency. Chapman said his client deserved a lighter sentence because Lopez-Aguilar was barely injured, according to court filings. However, Judge Ferraro denied the request for a mere six months probation believing three years would suffice.

“I’m not going to take the easy way out,” Ferrero said to Bowen. “You need to have a sense of consequence — for the next three years, you’re going to have the same sense of stress that you had coming into this today.”

He will also have to pay $8,000 in restitution fees that will cover Lopez-Aguilar’s medical expenses and have to complete 150 hours of community service. 

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