Reporting Reg Chapman
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Sixty-year-old Joe Rickey Hundley used a racial slur and then slapped a Minneapolis toddler on a Delta flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta on Feb. 8.
From the time Jessica Bennett sat down in her seat with her 19-month-old son Jonah, the man next to her began complaining.
Jessica says he was drinking, and becoming increasingly belligerent. Hundley, an Idaho resident, behaved hostile towards the mother and son before take-off.
“I said ‘Oh, we’re sitting next to you,’ and he just basically rolled his eyes and growled at us,” Jessica said.
Jessica says Hundley was drinking and complained to the crew that Jonah was too big to sit on her lap.
“I could just tell that he was annoyed with his comments. He’s turning my light back on after I would turn it off, and constantly saying things to the staff in regards to my son. And so I took us out of the situation and we stood back by the bathrooms,” she said.
Jessica stood holding Jonah for almost 90 minutes, and then returned to her seat when the plane began its descent. That’s when Jonah started crying, and Hundley lashed out at them both.
“He looked at me in a very hateful way,” she said.
Hundley then used a racial slur.
“And I said, ‘What did you say?’ because I couldn’t believe that he would say that,” she said. “He fell onto my face and his mouth was in my ear and he said it again but even more hateful. And he’s on my face, so I pushed him away.”
Jessica said she screamed and passengers got involved.
“And that’s when he slapped Jonah, so people saw,” she said.
Jonah was slapped near the eye, causing him to bleed and cry louder.
“He could have hit my son so hard and caused permanent damage. This is a grown man hitting a toddler,” she said.
They said before the racial slur and slap, Jonah was outgoing. He was friendly and loved giving high fives and fist bumps. Now he’s hesitant around both strangers and family members other than his parents.
A federal agent was on board the flight and spoke with Jessica. A criminal complaint was filed in Federal Court in Georgia for simple assault. The matter is also being investigated by the FBI.