A Lawrence firefighter was cited for battery and ordered to appear in municipal court after a Friday confrontation with another parent at a Free State High School marching band performance.
The incident stems from a parent not taking off his hat as the band played the national anthem.
Police spokesman Sgt. Matt Sarna said that according to the report, Daniel Clouse, 47, approached Bob Mandell, 46, in the stands minutes after the Free State band played the anthem.
Clouse was upset Mandell wore his hat, so he approached him from behind and grabbed Mandell by the neck, Sarna said. Officers were called and gave Clouse the ticket to appear in court Sept. 1.
“He grabbed me by the neck and shook me,” Mandell said. “He put his hand around the back of my neck and pressed on the left hand side with his right thumb. The spot still hurts.”
Clouse, a firefighter with Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical, disputes that he grabbed Mandell. Clouse said he put his hand on the back of his neck to get Mandell’s attention.
“What I said was, ‘Excuse me, sir, around here when the national anthem plays, you remove your hat. Show some respect,’” Clouse said.
Clouse said Mandell told him he forgot to remove his hat.
“The guy behind me said this is not the time or the place,” Clouse said. “It was a 30-second conversation. I didn’t smack him. I didn’t hit him at all.”
Clouse said he believed Mandell was embarrassed and then called police. But Mandell said he called officers because he was hurt and that he went to the doctor Saturday because of neck pain. He also said Clouse shoved him when Clouse walked off.
Mandell said during the confrontation he apologized to Clouse and said he simply forgot to remove his hat. He said he doesn’t often attend football games and was not used to hearing the national anthem.
Mandell said wasn’t trying to be unpatriotic and that he had his hand over his heart. He also said he had a camera with him that evening and before the national anthem he took a photo of the American flag at the stadium.
“I wasn’t doing it out of not being patriotic,” Mandell said. “But if I did, then what he did is actually directly countered to our rights and freedoms.”
Clouse said he would plead not guilty and fight the charge in court. He said he had witnesses who would back up his story.
Mark Bradford, chief of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical, confirmed Clouse was a firefighter.
“That particular issue is personal and a personnel matter, and I really can’t go into it,” Bradford said.
Mandell said he hoped Clouse would be convicted of the charge.
“I’m disappointed that he’s a firefighter,” Mandell said. “He should know better. I have the utmost respect for firefighters and for police and for the military. Those guys really do put it on the line for the rest of us.”
Clouse said the incident was blown out of proportion.
“My intention was to point out the etiquette,” Clouse said. “And the touching part was to get across my intention of talking to him.”