A man who allegedly slapped a crying toddler on a flight earlier this month has lost his job as a result of the event.
Joe Rickey Hundley, of Hayden, Idaho, was charged with assaulting a minor after the February 8 incident, which occurred on a flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta.
The toddler’s mother, Jessica Bennett, said she and her 19-month-old son, Jonah, had spent most of the flight at the back of the plane to avoid Hundley, who smelled of alcohol and was slurring his words. He was served more drinks during the flight.
As the plane began its descent and Bennett and her son returned to their seats, Jonah started to cry due to the change in altitude.
While Bennett tried to soothe her son, she says that Hundley turned to her and said, “Shut that [n-word] baby up.”
He then slapped the child with an open hand, leaving a scratch under his eye.
“I could not believe he would say something like that, and to a baby, or about a baby,” Bennett told a local news station.
“And then to hit him was just … I felt like I was in another world. I was shaking.”
Witnesses, including a federal air marshall, saw the event unfold, and intervened after Hundley hit the child
Bennett says her son has been traumatized by the incident, and that he has become "apprehensive to strangers" since.
Bennett hasn’t decided if she’ll sue over the incident – experts say she could sue Hundley or the air line for continuing to serve him alcohol while already impaired – but the family’s lawyer said they would like to see Hundley punished.
“The family wants to make sure that Mr Hundley and anyone like Mr Hundley never does something like that again,” their lawyer, John Thompson, said.
Hundley’s employer, AGC Aerospace & Defense, which supplies technology and other services to the military and large businesses, later released a statement over the incident.
“Reports of the recent behaviour of one of our business unit executives while on personal travel are offensive and disturbing. We have taken this matter very seriously and worked diligently to examine it since learning of the matter,” it read.
“As of Sunday, the executive is no longer associated with the company.”
Hundley’s lawyer said her client has been unfairly portrayed, stating that he isn’t racist and that he plans to plead not guilty. She added that he was dealing with unspecified issues.
The maximum sentence for such an assault is a prison sentence of one year.