Montana man who assaulted boy for 'disrespecting' anthem believed he was acting on Trump's orders, attorney says
A Montana man accused of attacking a child for "disrespecting" the national anthem believed he was acting on President Trump's orders, according to his attorney.
Curt Brockway, 39, was arrested last Saturday, after witnesses said he slammed a 13-year-old boy to the ground at a county fair in Superior, Wash.
Brockway reportedly told witnesses at the time that his actions were justified because the boy had refused to take off his hat while the anthem played, according to KPAX-TV.
Now, Brockway's lawyer says he believed he was simply obeying the president's orders.
"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," Lance Jasper, Brockway's defense attorney, told the Missoulian on Wednesday. "He certainly didn't understand it was a crime."
One witness told the Missoulian that Brockway originally said he had "every right to do that" because the boy was "disrespecting the national anthem."
The 13-year-old victim was flown to a hospital after the incident, where he was treated for skull fractures. He has since been released and is recovering at home.
Jasper said his client has received hundreds of death threats since the alleged assault. He added that while Brockway is partially to blame for his actions, he also suffered an apparent head injury in 2000.
That injury made him more susceptible to being "exploited" by Trump's rhetoric, Jasper said.
"Trump never necessarily says go hurt somebody, but the message is absolutely clear," Jasper told the Missoulian. "I am certain of the fact that (Brockway) was doing what he believed he was told to do, essentially, by the president."
Jasper said he plans to use a mental illness argument in defending his client, along with the claim that Trump implicitly ordained the attack.
"Whether that passes muster with the court as a viable defense is for a different day," Jasper told the Missoulian.
The president has been an outspoken critic of Americans who refuse to stand for the anthem, particularly professional athletes such as U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe and former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. In 2017, he suggested that NFL owners fire players who knelt during the anthem.
Brockway's court date is set for Aug. 14, according to the sheriff's office.