An Idaho man who reportedly slapped a crying child and ordered the boy’s mother to “shut that [n-word] baby up” on a Delta airlines flight has turned himself in to police. According to CNN, Joe Rickey Hundley of Hayden, Idaho surrendered to authorities on Tuesday in his home state and was released on bail.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta said that Hundley has been charged with assaulting a minor on a flight to Atlanta, stemming from an incident that took place on Feb. 8.
The boy, 19-month-old Jonah Bennett was crying because the pressure change as the aircraft descended hurt his ears. According to Jessica Bennett, Jonah’s mother, Hundley slapped the boy’s face with his open hand, after saying, “Shut that [n-word] baby up!”
Hundley’s attorney, Marcia Shein insists her client is not a racist and that he is being unfairly maligned.
“This has escalated into a racist issue and I want to be clear he is not a racist,” she said, indicating that Handley is also coping with unspecified personal issues.
An attorney for Jessica Bennett, 33, said that the mother and son spent much of the flight prior to the incident in the rear of the plane to avoid Hundley, who was seated next to them. He reportedly smelled strongly of alcohol and was slurring his words.
The blow to the toddler’s face left a scratch below his right eye.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Saturday that Hundley had lost his job at Unitech Composites and Structures, an aerospace engineering firm, as a result of the incident.
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