President Donald J. Trump announced 26 new pardons Wednesday, including one for Gary Brugman, a former U.S. Border Patrol agent who was sent to prison for nearly two years for violating the civil rights of a man attempting to cross the U.S. border into Texas.
U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and a slate of Republican congressional members were among the public figures who supported Brugman’s clemency, according to a statement from the White House press secretary.
Brugman’s case drew national attention among conservative figures who hailed him for working to secure the U.S. border. Court documents show that in January 2001, Brugman and a partner responded to a sensor alert in a pecan orchard near the border, where they spotted “a group of approximately ten individuals attempting to enter the United States illegally.”
Brugman chased them on foot after they attempted to run. After another officer caught up with the group, he ordered the men to sit on the floor. Everyone complied. When Brugman later approached, he struck one of the men, Angel Jimenez-Saldana, with his foot even though Jimenez-Saldana did not fight back, move or resist. Brugman then struck Jimenez-Saldana with his hands.
Court records show Brugman also assaulted a man seated next to Jimenez-Saldana, asking him whether “he liked to run and then pushing him to the ground with his foot and striking him with his hands.” Prosecutors said the second man also did not fight back.
Brugman was convicted in 2002 and spent more than two years in a federal prison. He’s repeatedly defended his actions and said not all of the men captured were cooperating.
“I ran up to the aliens and with the bottom of my foot I pushed the first alien to the ground … and told him to sit down as I said ‘sientense,’” Brugman wrote in a blog about his encounter, according to Fox News. “I then turned to a second alien and pushed him to the ground too.”
Brugman served in the Coast Guard for eight years and as a Border Patrol agent for four, the release from the White House said.
On the campaign trail and in the White House, Trump has touted hard-line immigration policies that have drawn pushback from human rights groups. A day earlier, on Tuesday, Trump pardoned Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, two former Border Patrol agents who were convicted of assault. Ramos’ and Compean’s sentences had been commuted by then-President George W. Bush. Trump granted them a full pardon.
Trump also granted clemency to several longtime loyalists, including Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; former campaign chair Paul Manafort; and longtime ally Roger Stone.