A Montana man who body-slammed a child during the national anthem claims he was carrying out an order from President Donald Trump.
Curt Brockway was charged Monday with felony assault on a minor after choke-slamming a 13-year-old boy to the ground because he did not take his hat off when "The Star-Spangled Banner" was played at the Mineral County fairgrounds, reported the Missoulian.
The boy suffered a concussion and fractured skull in the Aug. 3 incident.
An attorney for the 39-year-old Brockway said his client had suffered a traumatic brain injury in a 2000 vehicle crash and believed he was acting out what the president had told his supporters to do.
"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," said defense attorney Lance Jasper. "He certainly didn't understand it was a crime."
Trump has frequently attacked NFL players such as former quarterback Colin Kaepernick for kneeling in protest of racism during pregame performances of the national anthem.
Jasper said he's received some hateful voicemail messages since taking the case, but he said Brockway's family had gotten "hundreds" of death threats since the boy was flown to Spokane for emergency treatment.
The boy has since been released from the hospital, but no additional information was available about his condition.
Brockway told police that he had asked the teen to remove his hat out of respect for the flag, but the boy responded by saying, "F*ck you."
He told deputies that he grabbed the boy by the throat, lifted him up and slammed him to the ground, and he said others standing nearby agreed the teen had been disrespectful during the national anthem.
Brockway was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army after he was injured in the crash nearly 20 years ago but his military background remains central to his identity, according to his attorney.
Jasper said his client's brain injury has impaired his judgment, and he said the president's rhetoric against protesters sounded like an order to Brockway.
"Trump never necessarily says go hurt somebody, but the message is absolutely clear," Jasper said. "I am certain of the fact that (Brockway) was doing what he believed he was told to do, essentially, by the president."