Police have charged a Montana man with assault after witnesses say he threw a 13-year-old boy to the ground because he was "disrespecting the national anthem."
Curt James Brockway, 39, was arrested Saturday at the Mineral County Fair and charged with assault on a minor, according to Sheriff Mike Boone. Brockway slammed the child on the ground because he did not remove his hat during the national anthem, witnesses told KPAX.
Taylor Hennick told The Missoulian that Brockway said "he had every right to do that," because the boy was disrespecting the anthem.
"There was a little boy lying on the ground," she told the outlet. "He was bleeding out of his ears, seizing on the ground, just not coherent."
The boy was airlifted to a hospital in Spokane, Washington, according to the sheriff's office.
The child's parents told KPAX that he continued bleeding from his ear for nearly six hours after the assault. He was treated for temporal skull fractures and later released from the hospital, the station reported.
Conduct during the playing of the national anthem became a national issue when some NFL players began kneeling to protest police brutality and racism. As the NFL protests gained momentum, President Donald Trump chimed in.
"Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!'" Trump said at a 2017 rally.
The U.S. flag code says people should face the flag during the national anthem. Military members in uniform should salute while those out of uniform may do so. Men not in uniform should remove their hats and civilians should put their right hand over their heart, according to the code.
There was no indication the boy in this case was protesting in any way.
According to Montana court records, Brockway is a registered violent offender after he was convicted for a 2010 assault with a weapon. District Judge John Larson gave him a 10-year suspended sentence.
Prosecutors recommended his bail be set at $100,000. Court officials said Brockway's attorney was working Tuesday to recommend conditions that might allow Brockway to be released without posting bond. He will be arraigned in Mineral County Justice Court Aug. 14, according to the sheriff's office.