Minneapolis mom: Toddler slapped on Delta flight traumatized

  • Article by: STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS
  • Updated: February 16, 2013 - 11:15 PM

Oklahoma aerospace company said charge involving an executive aboard a Delta flight was "disturbing."

A Minneapolis woman says her 2-year-old son was traumatized by a man accused of slapping the boy and calling him a racial slur during an Atlanta-bound flight.

The man's employer says he has been suspended from his job.

The boy's mother, Jessica Bennett, said on Saturday that her son has become "apprehensive to strangers" since the Feb. 8 flight from Minneapolis.

Joe Rickey Hundley, 60, of Hayden, Idaho, has been charged with simple assault. His attorney said he will plead not guilty.

Bennett, 33, told authorities her son was crying as the Delta Air Lines flight prepared for landing. Hundley was sitting next to her and slapped the boy in his face, causing a scratch under his right eye, she said.

Hundley "told her to shut that [n-word] baby up," FBI special agent Daron Cheney said in a sworn statement. "Ms. Bennett received assistance from several people on the plane."

Bennett said her son began crying louder after he was hit.

"Hundley's comments were racist and hateful," Bennett told KARE-TV. "The family has numerous questions about how a passenger could get so violently out of control as to assault a toddler."

Al Haase, president and CEO of AGC Aerospace and Defense, wrote on the Oklahoma-based company's website that it had suspended Hundley, president of Unitech Composites and Structures of Hayden, Idaho, a division of AGC.

In his statement, Haase said, "We understand that authorities are investigating the recent behavior of one of our business unit executives while on personal travel. The allegations are disturbing and are contradictory to our values. We are taking this matter seriously. In accordance with our company's personal conduct policy, we have suspended the employee pending investigation."

According to the FBI affidavit filed on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Georgia, Bennett said that her son started to cry because of the change in cabin pressure and that she tried to get him to stop but that he kept crying.

Georgia attorney Marcia Shein, who is representing Hundley, said on Friday that he is pleading not guilty to the charge.

"Hopefully, this situation can be resolved," she said. "Both people are probably very nice. No one should rush to judgment."

Star Tribune staff writer Nicole Norfleet and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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