SUPERIOR, Mont. – A man accused of assaulting a 13-year-old boy in Montana after the boy wouldn’t remove his hat during the national anthem at a rodeo pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a felony charge of assault on a minor.
Curt James Brockway, wearing jeans and a short-sleeved plaid shirt, stood with his hands behind his back and looked intently at the judge during the short morning hearing at Mineral County Court in the town of Superior.
Judge John Larson reinstated Brockway’s probationary supervision from a previous conviction, meaning Brockway must stay at home with a GPS monitor — with the exceptions of visits with doctors and his attorney, and court appearances — and regularly check in with a probation officer.
Brockway, 39, is next scheduled to appear for a court hearing on October 23.
The boy suffered a concussion and a fractured skull, court documents say
Brockway was arrested on suspicion of assaulting the boy August 3 during a rodeo at the Mineral County Fairgrounds in Superior.
Brockway told police the boy was wearing a hat as the national anthem began, and he asked him to remove it because it was disrespectful to wear it during the anthem, but the boy responded by saying “f*** you,” according to an affidavit filed in court.
Brockway said he then grabbed the boy by his throat, lifted him into the air, before slamming the boy into the ground, the affidavit said.
According to the affidavit, witnesses confirmed most of Brockway’s description of events, but one woman said she did not hear him ask the boy to take off his hat.
The child had blood coming from his ears, a concussion and a fractured skull, the affidavit said.
He was airlifted to Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in Spokane, Washington, according to the document.
The child’s mother, Megan Keeler, told CNN affiliate KPAX that she received a phone call shortly after dropping off her son at the fairgrounds to tell her that he was being taken to a local hospital.
“Dude come up and grabbed him by his neck, picked him up and threw him to the ground head first,” Keeler told KPAX.
“There was no exchange — nothing! He targeted (her son) and took him down,” she added.
Probation relates to 2011 assault conviction
Brockway was put on probation in 2011 — and given a suspended 10-year prison sentence — after being convicted of assault with a weapon.
In that case, a prosecutor alleged Brockway had taken out a gun and threatened to shoot three people during a traffic dispute on a narrow road in Mineral County in September 2010, according to court documents.
Brockway was put on supervised probation after that conviction, but a petition to end the supervision was later granted in court.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Larson said he was reinstating that supervision, resulting in the GPS monitoring that Brockway is now subject to.
What his attorney says about the rodeo incident
Lance Jasper, Brockway’s attorney, said last week that his client is a military verteran who has a severe traumatic brain injury and has problems with impulse control. Between that and being a disabled veteran who is “uber patriotic,” Jasper said, Brockway is influenced by the rhetoric of President Donald Trump.
Referring to times the President has spoken out against athletes and others that kneel or protest during the national anthem and when he suggested possible jail time or loss of citizenship for burning the American flag, Jasper said, “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 Brockway expressed remorse the child was hurt.
“He told me ‘I guess I messed up because he got hurt. But I’m a patriot,'” Jasper said.
Jasper said he intends to present his client’s neuropsychological evaluation to the court. “Curt says he was given an order from (the) commander in chief to make sure people are patriotic,” Jasper said.
The maximum sentence for felony assault on a minor, according to a charging document, is five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.