A Montana man accused of brutally assaulting a 13-year-old after the boy refused to remove his cap during a rendition of the national anthem at a rodeo last week has pleaded not guilty to his charges.
Curt Brockway, 39, appeared in a Mineral County Court on Wednesday on a felony charge of assault on a minor in the August 3 incident. The military vet, who reportedly has a traumatic brain injury, was arrested on suspicion of injuring the teen at the Mineral County Fairgrounds in Superior.
Brockway told police the boy cursed him when he asked that he remove his baseball cap out of respect for the national anthem. That’s when he grabbed the youth by the throat, lifted him high into the air and slammed him to the ground headfirst.
“There was no exchange — nothing! He targeted (my son) and took him down,” the victim’s mother, Megan Keeler, told local station KPAX.
According to an affidavit, the boy suffered a concussion and a fractured skull and had to be airlifted to a hospital in Spokane, Washington.
Judge John Larson on Wednesday reinstated Brockway’s probation from a prior conviction in a 2010 assault case in which he threatened and pulled a gun on a family of three during a traffic dispute. The Montana man is now remanded to house arrest and must check in with a probation officer.
News of the politically charged assault sparked national outcry, and that vitriol has since made its way to Brockway, his relatives, and even some Mineral County Court officials. According to The Missoulian, security was especially tight at Wednesday’s hearing after a flood of “nasty messages” and threats leveled against officials handling the case.
“The majority were strongly worded but appropriate opinions regarding the alleged assault of a teenager by a 39-year-old male here in Superior,” Mineral County Attorney Ellen Donohue told the outlet. “However, there were a number of hostile and inappropriate emails and voicemails.”
Attorney Lance Jasper, who’s representing Brockway, said he’s also been hit with hateful messages at his office and that his client’s family has received death threats — hundreds of them. Jasper told The Missoulian last week that Brockway is a “patriot” and was only acting on an order from President Donald Trump when he assaulted the 13-year-old.
“His commander-in-chief is telling people that if they kneel [during the anthem], they should be fired, or if they burn a flag, they should be punished,” Jasper said. “Curt takes that literally. … And when he sees it happening, he feels he needs to do something about it. He certainly didn’t understand it was a crime.”
The attorney said both Brockway and his family have expressed remorse over the incident and are wishing the teen a speedy recovery.
“He told me ‘I guess I messed up because he got hurt,’ ” Jasper said.
Brockway’s next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 23. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.