(TMU) — An attorney for the 39-year-old man who violently attacked a 13-year-old boy for not removing his hat during the national anthem, fracturing the child’s skull, claims that his client believed he was carrying out the orders of President Donald Trump.
Curt James Brockway—a resident of Superior, Montana and U.S. Army veteran who himself suffered traumatic brain injuries—was charged Monday with felony assault on a minor after slamming the boy to the ground, causing him to seize up and bleed from the ears.
Now, defense attorney Lance Jasper is citing Trump’s “rhetoric” as part of the reason why the man aggressively choke-slammed the young boy at a county fair and rodeo on Saturday, according to the Missoulian. Jasper explained:
“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 … He certainly didn’t understand it was a crime.”
According to charging documents from Brockway’s arrest that were filed in Mineral County District Court on Tuesday, he claims that he asked the young boy to remove his hat because it was disrespectful, but the youth responded by saying “fuck you.”
The documents further note that Brockway explained to Deputy Micah Allard that he then grabbed the boy by the throat before lifting him into the air and slamming him to the ground.
Taylor Hennick, a rodeo attendee, said that she had just paused for the national anthem before she suddenly heard a “pop” and noticed a child “bleeding out of his ears, seizing on the ground.” At that point, people began surrounding Brockway, who attempted to justify the assault by saying that the boy “was disrespecting the national anthem by wearing this hat. I heard him saying that in front of a lot of people… people were just shocked.”
Jasper, who has received a number of angry voicemails since taking Brockway’s case, said that he plans to seek a mental health evaluation for his client to determine how best to proceed with his defense.
Brockway was on active military duty at Fort Lewis, Washington in 2000 when he was involved in a vehicle crash while driving home to visit family, resulting in an honorable discharge from the military due to disability, the lawyer explained.
Since suffering an injury to his frontal lobe, Brockway’s military background has been central to his identity while cognitive functions such as judgment and problem solving have been impaired, Jasper said.
However, Jasper argues that Brockway has been spurred along by Trump’s aggressive nationalist calls to pursue those who are insufficiently loyal to the United States.
Indeed, at a 2017 rally, Donald Trump denounced the kneeling movement started by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling during NFL games in 2016 as a protest against racism and police brutality in the U.S. At the rally, Trump said:
“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!’”
Jasper argues that when the attack occurred, Brockway was no longer acting as a person with agency but as a soldier responding to an order from his commander-in-chief.
“Obviously he (Brockway) owes a big portion of accountability for what took place, but it’s certain that there was other things at work here that definitely contributed.”
Continuing, Jasper notes that his client’s condition may have been “exploited” by the “animosity” of the president’s message.
“Trump never necessarily says go hurt somebody, but the message is absolutely clear … I am certain of the fact that (Brockway) was doing what he believed he was told to do, essentially, by the president.
There is the defense that his mental illness or brain injury that will be raised, along with permission given by the president.
Whether that passes muster with the court as a viable defense is for a different day.”
Brockway is registered in the state as a violent offender due to a 2010 assault with a weapon. He is currently serving a 10-year probation sentence for the charge, and will face an arraignment next week under District Court Judge John Larson, who originally sentenced him to probation in the prior case.
Jasper plans to use his argument casting part of the blame on Trump at the August 14 arraignment.
The attack on the young boy, known only by his first name Wally, has gained national attention, but the child’s family has maintained a very low profile since it occurred.
According to the Missoulian, a newly-established GoFundMe campaign titled “Boy Assaulted by Nationalist Needs Our Help” has been set up to assist Wally’s family pay for the significant medical expenses related to the case. However, it has not been verified if this campaign is in fact connected to the boy and his family.