(CN) – A U.S. Army veteran who choked and threw a 14-year-old boy to the ground for not removing his hat during the national anthem at a small-town Montana rodeo pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of assault.
Curtis Brockway entered his plea in Mineral County District Court. Brockway’s attorney, Lance Jasper, has said Brockway believed he was disciplining the boy on orders from President Donald Trump.
Brockway was attending a rodeo at the Mineral County Fair on Aug. 3 when the alleged assault occurred. During the national anthem at the start of the rodeo, Brockway allegedly told a 14-year-old boy to remove his hat, but the boy declined.
According to court documents, Brockway grabbed the boy by the throat, lifted the boy off his feet and slammed him to the ground. Brockway faces a charge of assault on a minor, a felony.
Jasper told the Associated Press last week that Brockway, 39, suffers from a traumatic brain injury he received in 2000 car accident and that his client was acting on the president’s “rhetoric.” Brockway is a registered violent offender who was convicted of assault with a weapon in 2010, according to the AP.
“His commander in chief is telling people that if they kneel (during the national anthem), they should be fired, or if they burn a flag, they should be punished,” Jasper said. “He certainly didn’t understand it was a crime.
“Trump never necessarily says go hurt somebody, but the message is absolutely clear. I am certain of the fact that he was doing what he believed he was told to do, essentially, by the president.”
An online fundraiser had accumulated about $8,600 to help defray costs for the boy’s family.
Superior, Montana, is the Mineral County seat and has a population of about 4,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Jasper did not return a call for comment for this story.