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 10:27 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Hamas' tactics have changed -- now the group is using commando-like tactics, says CNN's Ben Wedeman.
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
CNN's Richard Quest speaks to Malaysia Airlines' Hugh Dunleavy about how the airline industry needs to react to MH17.
updated 4:42 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
From Maastricht to Melbourne, and baroque theaters to block-long warehouses, these stores make bookish travelers look stylish.
updated 11:40 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
updated 2:09 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
A California homeowner's nightmare has become a cautionary tale for those who rent their homes to strangers.
updated 2:57 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
updated 8:21 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Prince George isn't your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he's going to be king -- of 16 countries.
updated 7:36 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Former President Bill Clinton acknowledges he got "very close" to helping achieve peace in the Middle East.
updated 2:21 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will build 100 "smart cities" across the country.
updated 7:27 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Inspirational, creepy or just weird? CNN meets the 51-year-old man who dresses like a schoolgirl.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT