A man is facing simple assault charges after he allegedly slapped a 19-month-old toddler across the face while calling the child the n-word.
The incident took place Feb. 8 aboard Delta Air Lines Flight 721, en route from Minneapolis to Atlanta, when Joe Rickey Hundley, 60, is said to have slapped the child, named Jonah, who was traveling with his mother, Jessica Bennett, the Smoking Gun reports.
FBI Agent Daron Cheney said Hundley was sitting in seat 28A while Bennet and her son sat in seat 28B, during the two-hour flight.
According to the Smoking Gun, Bennett told investigators that Jonah began to cry as the plane changed altitude in its final descent to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and that she attempted to comfort him when Hundley, who was sitting next to her on the flight, turned around and slapped her son with an open hand, saying “shut that [n*****] baby up.”
Bennet said the slap caused Jonah to scream even louder, and that it also “caused a scratch below [the child’s] right eye.”
Hundley reportedly denies striking the child or using the racial slur; however, he does say he “asked the mother to quiet the child.”
According to the Smoking Gun, Hundley, the president of an aircraft parts manufacturer in Hayden, Idaho, was traveling to Atlanta to visit a hospitalized relative, whose illness made him “distraught.” He says he consumed one alcoholic beverage during the flight.
But several witnesses who assisted Bennet after the attack say otherwise. Todd Wooten, who was in seat 16C, said that he “heard derogatory language coming from the rear of the aircraft” and saw Hundley hit the child when he got up to investigate.
Bennet said Hundley had drunk several double vodkas during the flight and had previously complained that her son was too big to be a “lap baby.” She added that she believed he was intoxicated when he boarded the plane, and that he “reeked of alcohol” and was “stumbling around wasted.”
Apprehended when the flight landed, Hundley faces up to a year in prison if convicted of the misdemeanor count. In addition, he was charged with public intoxication and carrying a concealed weapon; the "weapon" he claims, was a wine corkscrew.
Hundley apparently has history of violence, having been arrested in 2007 for having a fight with his girlfriend.