CRIME

Joe Rickey Hundley, Delta Passenger Accused Of Slapping Toddler, Faces Charges (VIDEO)

02/17/2013 09:58 am ET | Updated Feb 17, 2013

A recent Delta Air Lines flight turned sour when a 60-year-old passenger allegedly struck a crying toddler, the Smoking Gun first reported.

Joe Rickey Hundley, accused of slapping another passenger's 2-year-old boy, is facing federal assault charges, CNN and 11alive.com reported.

The high-level manufacturing executive -- president of Idaho-based Unitech Composites and Structures -- was also suspended from his job, pending the outcome of an investigation.

Hundley "told her to shut that (N-word) baby up," FBI special agent Daron Cheney said in a sworn statement obtained by the Associated Press. "Ms. Bennett received assistance from several people on the plane."

The alleged incident took place on Feb. 8 when a Delta flight from Minneapolis was preparing to land in Atlanta.

The Star Tribune reports that Delta spokesman Paul Skrbec confirmed an altercation took place on the flight in a statement, noting that the airline is "cooperating fully" with the federal investigation.

Hundley, on the other hand, is vehemently refuting the allegations. During an interview with the Smoking Gun, Hundley denied hitting the toddler or using a derogatory racial term, instead stating that he only "asked the mother to quiet the child."

According to the Spokesman-Review, Hundley also called the slapping account "an absolute falsehood."

Hundley's attorney, Marcia Shein, told KARE 11 that her client intends to plead not guilty.

"Hopefully, this situation can be resolved," Shein told the Minneapolis TV station. "Both people are probably very nice. No one should rush to judgment."

The baby's mother, Jessica Bennett, said her child was traumatized by the incident.

Her son has become "apprehensive to strangers" Bennett said in a statement obtained by the AP.

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