A 13-year-old boy was left with a fractured skull after a man slammed him to the ground for ‘disrespecting’ the US National Anthem.
The alleged attack took place at a rodeo at the Mineral County Fair in Montana on Saturday (August 3), when The Star-Spangled Banner began playing and the young teen did not remove his red baseball cap.
A statement written by Mineral County Attorney Ellen Donohue, as per Associated Press, said 39-year-old Curt James Brockway told a sheriff’s deputy he had asked the boy to remove his hat but the teen swore at him.
Brockway grabbed the boy by the throat, ‘lifted him into the air and slammed [him] into the ground’. However, one witness, despite agreeing with most of Brockway’s description of what happened, said they did not hear him ask the boy to take off his hat.
Another witness, Taylor Hennick, recalled the attack to NBC News, saying:
I looked over because I heard a ‘pop’ and this man had grabbed this little boy by the neck and slammed him to the ground. I saw it from the corner of my eye.
[The boy] was definitely bleeding out of his ears; he was scared. He seemed shocked and out of it and wondering why he was being hit.
Following the attack, the 39-year-old reportedly defended his violent actions as Hennick heard him saying the 13-year-old ‘was disrespecting the national anthem by wearing [the] hat’.
The witness added:
People were just shocked.
The boy was initially taken to a nearby hospital but his injuries were so serious he had to be airlifted to Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in Spokane, Washington, according to a statement from Mineral County Sheriff Mike Boone.
The teen was treated for temporal skull fractures and according to KPAX he has since been released from hospital and will continue healing at home.
Speaking of the incident, the victim said:
It’s just a lot of pain in my head. I don’t remember anything – the rodeo – the helicopter – nothing.
The US flag code says people should ‘face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder’.
However, it also states the flag should ‘never be used as wearing apparel [or] bedding’ and I’ve definitely seen my fair share of Americans wearing clothes patterned with the flag, so it’s not up to Brockway to decide what constitutes ‘disrespecting the flag’.
The 39-year-old was arrested on suspicion of felony assault on a minor following the alleged attack. NBC report he is on a registry of violent offenders, stemming from a 2011 conviction for assault with a weapon.
Brockway appeared in court on Monday in Mineral County where the state requested his bond be set to $100,000, however the judge ruled he could be released on his own recognizance, meaning the alleged attacker could be released without posting bail after signing a promise to show up in court.
He was released on Tuesday on a list of conditions which included a home arrest at his parent’s house with a GPS monitoring device, no contact with any witnesses and no alcohol or drug use.
Mineral County Attorney Donohue commented on the judge’s ruling, saying:
Defense Counsel argued persuasively, it appears, that the Defendant has strong and life-long ties to the community (so he was not a flight risk) and that conditions could be put in place to afford the community an appropriate measure of safety.
Brockway is scheduled to be arraigned on August 14, when he’ll be asked to enter a plea.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.