A man accused of assaulting a 13-year-old boy in Montana for “disrespecting” the National Anthem by not removing his hat pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a felony charge of assault on a minor, CNN reports.
Curt James Brockway, 39, allegedly picked up the boy during a rodeo at a Montana fair earlier this month and slammed him to the ground, fracturing his skull.
“There was a little boy lying on the ground,” Taylor Hennick, who was as the Mineral County Fair and Rodeo on Saturday, told Missoulian. “He was bleeding out of his ears, seizing on the ground, just not coherent.”
According to witnesses, Brockway tried to justify the assault as people began to confront him, saying that he had “every right” to do so because of the perceived disrespect to the National Anthem.
“He said [the boy] was disrespecting the national anthem so he had every right to do that,” Hennick said.
“It’s just a lot of pain in my head. I don’t remember anything – the rodeo – the helicopter – nothing,” the boy told KPAX.
Brockway’s attorney has invoked President Trump’s rhetoric about respecting the flag to defend him.
“His commander in chief is telling people that if they kneel, they should be fired, or if they burn a flag, they should be punished,” attorney Lance Jasper told the Missoulian about his client, Curt Brockway. “He certainly didn’t understand it was a crime.”
“Curt takes that literally and views the President as the commander in chief and when he sees it happening, he feels he needs to do something about it,” Jasper said.
According to Jasper, his client expressed remorse over the incident.
“He told me, ‘I guess I messed up because he got hurt. But I’m a patriot,’” Jasper said.