A Montana man accused of violently assaulting a 13-year-old boy at a rodeo earlier this month for wearing a hat during the national anthem pleaded not guilty Wednesday to felony assault on a minor.
Curt James Brockway, 39, was arrested Aug. 3 after he allegedly grabbed the boy by the throat, lifted him into the air and slammed him into the ground for refusing to take off his hat while the anthem was being played at Mineral County Fair and Rodeo in the town of Superior.
Brockway told police that he believed the teen was being disrespectful by wearing the hat during the anthem so he asked him to remove it, but he refused. That’s when Brockway allegedly attacked him.
The boy suffered temporal skull fractures from the attack and bled from his ears for six hours, according to his mother, Megan Wheeler.
Brockway pleaded not guilty Wednesday at Mineral County Court in Superior.
Lance Jasper, Brockway’s attorney, claimed last week that his client’s decision-making ability was compromised by a traumatic brain injury that led him to be honorably discharged from the Army. He said President Donald Trump’s rhetoric influenced Brockway’s interaction with the victim.
“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,” Jasper told the Missoulian. “He certainly didn’t understand it was a crime.”
Though prosecutors requested that Brockway be held on $100,000 bond, the court ruled that he could be released without posting bail, despite a 2010 conviction of assault with a weapon.
Judge John Larson ruled Wednesday that supervised probation stemming from Brockway’s 2010 conviction must be reinstated. Brockway is required to wear a GPS monitor and can only leave his home for medical appointments, visits with his attorney and court appearances.
His next court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 23, CNN reported.