Skip to main content

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

By CNN Staff
February 21, 2013 -- Updated 0132 GMT (0932 HKT)
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
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 2009 GMT (0409 HKT)
The U.S. and several Arab nations carried out airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, intensifying the campaign against the militant group.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1218 GMT (2018 HKT)
Her friends were raped and her brother was killed by ISIS, but 15-year-old "Aria" managed to escape.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1058 GMT (1858 HKT)
Emma Watson lent her name and her glittery profile to the cause of feminism at the United Nations.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
From Gadhafi to Ahmadinejad, Bush to Chavez: look back at memorable moments from past UNGA sessions. Richard Roth reports.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 0741 GMT (1541 HKT)
Just days after NASA's Mars orbiter reached the Red Planet, India's first mission could follow suit and make history.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 2314 GMT (0714 HKT)
Khorasan, al Qaeda's new branch, seeks new ways to attack America and Europe.
Alibaba officially became the biggest initial public offering of all time, confirming that in the final tally it raised $25 billion.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 0257 GMT (1057 HKT)
Do the Chinese really like to mix their Bordeaux with Coca-Cola?
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 0936 GMT (1736 HKT)
Cape Town native, Janine Davies is South Africa's first female rider to compete on a national level.
In the largely male-dominated world of the motorsport, South African super bike racer Janine Davies is an anomaly.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1130 GMT (1930 HKT)
The Lilongwe Wildlife Center houses over 200 animal victims and helps rehabilitate them back into the wild.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 1052 GMT (1852 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT