Delta Air Lines apologizes "for any inconvenience" caused by "altercation"
Mother tries to soothe crying 2-year-old son as Delta flight descends into Atlanta
Man beside them allegedly says "shut that ('N word') baby up," court papers say
He then allegedly slaps the crying boy in the face with an open hand, papers say
An Idaho man has been charged with assaulting a minor after he allegedly uttered a racial slur and slapped a 2-year-old boy who cried on a Delta plane as it began the final descent into Atlanta, court papers show.
Reached by phone Friday, Joe Rickey Hundley of Hayden, Idaho, declined to comment to CNN and referred inquiries to his attorney. The attorney couldn’t be immediately reached for comment Friday.
Delta Air Lines is cooperating with the federal investigation into the altercation between two passengers, spokesman Paul Skrbec said. “We apologize for any inconvenience this caused for the passengers onboard,” he said.
The boy’s mother, Jessica Bennett, 33, of Minnesota told the FBI that she and her son were seated in row 28, seat B, on February 8 on Delta Flight 721 that originated in Minneapolis, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta this week.
The boy began crying because of the altitude change, and his mother tried to soothe him, court papers said.
Then Hundley, who was seated next to the mother and son, allegedly told her to “shut that (’N word’) baby up,” according to court documents.
Hundley then turned around and slapped the 2-year-old in the face with an open hand, which caused the child to scream even louder, the affidavit said.
The boy suffered a scratch below his right eye, court papers said.
Other passengers on the plane assisted Bennett, and one of them heard the slur and witnessed the alleged assault, the affidavit said. The plane landed at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International.
The charge of simple assault on someone under age 16 carries a prison sentence of one year, court papers said.
Hundley has since been suspended from his job pending the investigation.
“We understand that authorities are investigating the recent behavior of one of our business unit executives while on personal travel. The allegations are disturbing and are contradictory to our values,” said Al Haase, president and CEO of AGC Aerospace & Defense, Composites Group.
In 2007, Hundley pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge filed in Virginia, according to court records.
CNN’s Marlena Baldacci, Dave Alsup and Carma Hassan contributed to this report.