Boss charged with slapping toddler's face on plane

Joe Rickey Hundley is alleged to have 'racially abused' crying child then hit it with an open hand

LAST UPDATED AT 15:30 ON Tue 19 Feb 2013

THE boss of an aircraft parts manufacturer charged with racially abusing a crying toddler and slapping it in the face on a flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta, has lost his job and faces up to a year in prison if convicted.

The Smoking Gun reports that Joe Rickey Hundley, 60, was seated next to the child and its mother on 8 February when the 19-month-old boy began to cry as the aircraft prepared to land. Hundley allegedly turned to the mother and told her to "shut that n****r baby up", before slapping the child in the face with an open hand.

The incident ended when other passengers on Delta Airlines Flight 721 intervened. Hundley, who was arrested and charged with simple assault, faces up to a year in prison if convicted.

The child’s mother, Jessica Bennett, 33, told investigators that the "aircraft was in final descent" when her child started to cry due to the change in air pressure in the main cabin. She said she was trying to get her son, who is adopted, to stop crying when Hundley intervened.

The slap caused the boy to "scream even louder" and caused a scratch below his right eye, Bennett said.

Hundley, who was the president of an aircraft parts manufacturer based in Idaho, has been sacked over the incident. He admits he asked Bennett to "quiet the child", but denies using racial language or striking the boy. Hundley told investigators he was travelling to Atlanta to visit a relative who was in hospital and was in a "distraught" state during the flight.

Bennett has said she believes Hundley was drunk after consuming several double vodkas and says he "reeked of alcohol" and was "stumbling" around the cabin. He insists he only had one drink on the two-hour flight. · 

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