Skip to main content

Man accused of slapping crying boy on Delta flight turns himself in

By CNN Staff
updated 8:32 PM EST, Wed February 20, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Joe Rickey Hundley is accused of slapping a crying 19-month-old on an airline flight
  • He is charged with assaulting a minor, was released on bail
  • Hundley's attorney has said her client is being unfairly portrayed

(CNN) -- An Idaho man accused of uttering a racial slur and slapping a crying 19-month-old boy on a Delta Air Lines flight turned himself in to authorities Tuesday.

Joe Rickey Hundley of Hayden, Idaho, surrendered in that state, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta. He was charged with assaulting a minor, stemming from a February 8 incident aboard the Delta flight to Atlanta.

Hundley was released on bail.

His attorney, Marcia Shein, has said her client is being unfairly portrayed.

"This has escalated into a racist issue and I want to be clear he is not a racist," Shein said.

Will the slap heard 'round the country have lasting effects?

She also said that Hundley is dealing with unspecified issues.

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta last week, the boy's mother, Jessica Bennett, 33, of Minnesota and her son were seated in Row 28, Seat B on Delta Flight 721 that originated in Minneapolis.

She spent part of the flight in the rear of the plane to get away from Hundley, who she said smelled like alcohol and was slurring his speech, according to John Thompson, the attorney for the child's family.

As the plane began its descent into Atlanta, the boy began to cry because of the altitude change and his mother tried to soothe him.

Hundley, who was seated next to the mother and son, allegedly told her to "shut that (N-word) baby up."

Hundley then turned around and slapped the child in the face with an open hand, which caused him to scream even louder, an FBI affidavit said.

The boy suffered a scratch below his right eye.

Other passengers on the plane assisted Bennett, and one of them heard the slur and witnessed the alleged assault, the affidavit said.

Shein said that even if her client did use the slur, it does not make him a racist.

CNN's MaryLynn Ryan, Ric Ward and Michael Martinez contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:02 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
updated 12:07 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
With so many new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
updated 12:29 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Thomas Malthus famously predicted that rising populations would create a food crunch: Could this be true?
updated 3:21 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
The lives of everyone close to Oscar Pistorius and the girl he killed are changed forever, his siblings say.
updated 6:33 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
From "Sick Man of Europe" to the world's fourth largest economy.
updated 8:18 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Serbia and Albania try to play but the major game is called off after a drone flying a political flag enters the stadium.
updated 7:36 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
George Clooney's new wife, is now Amal Clooney, raising the issue of married names.
updated 1:57 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
The mysterious unmanned X-37B space plane returns to Earth after more than two years in space. But the U.S. Air force isn't saying much.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT