Joe Rickey Hundley was arrested and charged with simple assault when he allegedly demanded that another passenger quiet her 19-month-old crying baby stating, “shut that n*gger baby up.” The man then reportedly followed up the shout with an open-handed slap across the child’s face, The Smoking Gun reports.
The incident occurred on Feb. 8 aboard a Delta Airlines flight. Hundley, who is president of an aircraft parts manufacturing plant headquartered in Hayden, Ohio, denied uttering the racial slur or even putting his hands on the child. The 60-year-old did admit to requesting that the 33-year-old mother of the boy, Jessica Bennett, keep her son, Jonah, quiet.
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Hundley, who was traveling to Atlanta to visit a hospitalized relative, told authorities he was distraught on the flight and had only consumed a single alcoholic beverage. Bennett, who was seated next to Hundley, said that her son began to cry when the flight was in its final descent. The young mom said that the altitude change must have disturbed her toddler whom she was desperately trying to calm down.
Bennett told authorities that Hundley did use the racial slur, followed by the open-handed slap across her son’s face which actually intensified his crying. The slap “caused a scratch below [the child’s] right eye,” she told The Smoking Gun.
After Bennett’s child was struck, she received assistance from a few nearby passengers. Todd Wooten, reportedly heard the slur and witnessed the slap. Bennett told authorities she thinks Hundley was intoxicated because he reeked of alcohol and the woman alleges she saw him consume several double vodkas during the two-hour flight.
The Smoking Gun reports that Hundley has had a few brushes with the law in the past:
According to Virginia state court records, Hundley was arrested in 2007 following a fight with his girlfriend. Initially charged with simple assault, carrying a concealed weapon, and public intoxication, Hundley subsequently pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor assault rap. Hundley told TSG that the weapon he allegedly brandished was a wine corkscrew.
If convicted of the misdemeanor charge Hundley could face up to a year in prison.