A 39-year-old man has been charged with felony assault of a minor in Montana after he allegedly slammed a 13-year-old boy to the ground for not taking his hat off during the national anthem. The incident took place Saturday at the Mineral County Fair and Rodeo in western Montana. Witnesses told a local CBS affiliate that as the anthem began, Curt Brockway grabbed the teen, picked him up, and then slammed him headfirst to the ground. As people nearby approached, Brockway said he slammed the boy to the ground because of his hat. “He said (the boy) was disrespecting the national anthem so he had every right to do that,” eyewitness Taylor Hennick said. Brockway told a sheriff’s deputy that he had asked the boy to remove his hat for the anthem and that the boy cursed in response, though eyewitnesses did not corroborate that portion of Brockway’s retelling.
“There was a little boy lying on the ground,” Hennick told the Missoulian. “He was bleeding out of his ears, seizing on the ground, just not coherent.” She said she had heard a “pop” when the anthem began and recognized the boy as the neighbor of a family member. The injuries sustained by the boy were severe: He was taken to a local hospital where he was diagnosed with temporal skull fractures before being flown to a children’s hospital in Spokane, Washington. The boy’s parents said he continued bleeding from the ear for nearly six hours after the incident.
“It’s just a lot of pain in my head. I don’t remember anything—the rodeo, the helicopter, nothing,” the teen, who has since been released from the hospital, told CBS affiliate KPAX. Brockway has had previous run-ins with the law and is currently serving a 10-year probation sentence for another assault charge involving a weapon.