Jessica Bennett said a passenger slapped her son and called him a racial slur during a flight. (Image source: KARE-TV)
A Minneapolis mother says her 2-year-old son is traumatized after a stranger slapped him near the eye and yelled at her to "shut that [n-word] baby up!" during an Atlanta-bound flight.
The alleged incident happened on Feb. 8 during a Delta Air Lines flight from Minneapolis. Jessica Bennett told KARE-TV her son had started to cry because of the pressure change as the plane began to descend.
Bennett said the man next to her, identified as 60-year-old Joe Rickey Hundley, of Hayden, Idaho, "reeked of alcohol" and was "belligerent" then leaned over and said "shut that [n-word] baby up!" before slapping the child. The slap, right near the boy's eye, caused him to bleed and cry even harder.
"I could not believe he would say that and then hit him," Bennett told KARE. "I felt like I was in another world. I was shaking."
She received assistance from others on the flight and was reseated with her son. Hundley was later charged with simple assault and could face up to a year in jail. His attorney said he will plead not guilty.
"Hundley's comments were racist and hateful," Bennett said. "We have numerous questions about how a passenger could get so violently out of control as to assault a toddler."
Hundley has been suspended from his job as president of Unitech Composites and Structures, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
“We are taking this matter seriously,” said Al Haase, president and chief executive officer of AGC Aerospace and Defense, Composites Group, Unitech's parent company. “In accordance with our company’s personal conduct policy, we have suspended the employee pending investigation."
The family wants Hundley brought to justice.
"If he goes unpunished it would be awful," Jessica Bennett's husband Josh told KARE. "We want to see this guy do some time."