(Reuters) - Text messages sent by a U.S. Border Patrol agent before he knocked over a migrant with a pickup truck showed he called migrants "subhuman," and "savages," according to federal court documents.
Agent Matthew Bowen sent the messages in November 2017, just weeks before he is accused of deliberately knocking over a Guatemalan man with his Border Patrol vehicle in Nogales, Arizona, according to the documents filed in U.S. District Court in Tucson.
Prosecutors Monica Ryan and Lori Price filed the documents April 30 with a request to use the messages in court to show Bowen's "state of mind" prior to the incident and his "willful" intent to knock over the migrant on Dec. 3, 2017.
They said the messages showed his "great disdain for the aliens," and "dissatisfaction with restrictions Border Patrol placed on its agents in how they could apprehend aliens."
Defense lawyer Sean Chapman said he was misquoted in a recent news story that reported the attorney said he believed racial slurs or other derogatory remarks against undocumented aliens were commonplace among Border Patrol agents.
"That is not correct," Chapman said in an emailed statement, declining further comment.
The case comes at a time when the Border Patrol is overwhelmed by a surge in migrants from Guatemala and other Central American countries.
A federal grand jury indicted Bowen May 30, 2018, on charges of denying the Guatemalan man his civil rights and filing a false report, court records show.
The Border Patrol in Tucson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting By Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Editing by Scott Malone)