Slap Suit? Executive Fired After Allegedly Slapping Baby On Flight And Using Racial Slur

article-2279328-179D27D3000005DC-94_306x423article-2279328-179D27CF000005DC-847_306x423Meet Joe Rickey Hundley, 60, of Hayden, Idaho who allegedly responded to an irritable flight by getting himself arrested and later fired from his job as a company executive at a defense contractor. Hundley was on a Delta flight when he allegedly slapped a 19-month-old boy who was crying.

Delta Flight 721 that originated in Minneapolis and the toddler’s mother, Jessica Bennett, 33, said that she went to the rear of the plane to get away from Hundley who smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech. During the descent to Atlanta, the boy began to cry (not an uncommon reaction of babies) and that is when Hundley is accused of slapping the baby. Hundley reportedly said “shut that n****r baby up” before slapping Jonah. Not surprisingly, the slap did not make Jonah stop crying, but it did bring other passengers to Bennett’s rescue. The slap reportedly left a scratch beneath the child’s right eye. One other passenger gave a statement saying that the racial slur was used.

130218100902-nr-marsh-crying-boy-assault-00001621-story-topHundley was charged with assaulting a minor in the February 8 incident. After first being suspended by AGC Aerospace & Defense, he was fired by the company which that that “reports of the recent behavior of one of our business unit executives while on personal travel are offensive and disturbing . . . As of Sunday, the executive is no longer employed with the company.”

Hundley’s attorney, Marcia Shein, however, objected to how “this has escalated into a racist issue and I want to be clear he is not a racist.” The key, I suppose, would be to confirm that he did not call the baby a vile racist name. It is hard to say such a thing and not be a racist. However, you still have the problem of slapping a baby on a plane. Even if you show that he did not use the racial term, that would leave your client as a baby slapper. However, with the witness, the record suggests that he is not just a baby slapper but a racist baby slapper.

Simple assault on someone under age 16 carries a prison sentence of one year.

Alcohol is clearly a factor here and we just saw a case where a drunk prosecutor was able to get out of a serious criminal charge by claiming that he was so drunk that he lacked intent to strangle a paramedic.

Notably, however, in 2007, Hundley pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge filed in Virginia.

What would be interesting is to see if the family will sue in tort for assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They could also sue the airplane under a dram shop type claim for “over-serving” a passenger.

Source: CNN

52 thoughts on “Slap Suit? Executive Fired After Allegedly Slapping Baby On Flight And Using Racial Slur

  1. This is the first story I’ve seen which makes it clear that he was actually charged with an assault. That’s a relief. Glad to see passengers step up, too. He’s been getting away with this type of behavior for a long time, it seems. Time for payback.

  2. ‘Ok, just saying – a 2 year old is not an infant or a baby.’

    Nate A,

    I’m just saying that anyone who slaps a child in the face is an ass, whatever age. I’ve raised two children into wonderful adulthood. Neither my wife, nor I ever used any sort of corporal punishment, or demeaned our children in any way. Yet we were firm parents in a loving manner. We were constantly complimented by other parents as to our children’s behavior. Those that need to use force, or slurs upon their children are not good parents. We exemplified the principles laid out by Doctor Haim Ginott in his two books: “Between Parent and Child” and “Between Parent and Teenager”, which are among the best books on child rearing I know.

    It is rewarding that this man lost his job, though I believe he has “floated” through life up until now with an alcohol/anger control problem. His actions were reprehensible.

  3. It certainly appears that this guy is the epitome of the sloppy evil drunk; his conduct is reprehensible. However, had he slapped the mother for the inevitable infliction of emotional distress caused by her crying child on an airplane, then I think a jury would be far more sympathetic to his actions.

  4. “However, had he slapped the mother for the inevitable infliction of emotional distress caused by her crying child on an airplane, then I think a jury would be far more sympathetic to his actions.”


    You call that remark balanced? I would call that action: assault, drunk and disorderly and just plain stupid.

  5. The booze is wretched as it brings out into the open what is already lurking. Baby-slapping is high on this disgraced moron’s agenda.

  6. Why is it that here in America we allays have to focus on race? For slapping a 19 month old baby, this man deserves what he got, and should also get a criminal charge. He slapped a baby, isn’t that bad enough? What difference does it make what color the baby is?

  7. “Why is it that here in America we allays have to focus on race?”


    Because we still have so many unresolved race issues.

  8. It’s good to know the bigot has been fired and shamed. But I’d bet the farm he still gets the “golden handshake” as he’s cleaning out his desk, or he sues if he doesn’t.

    Is “bigot” a portmanteau of “big idiot”? It certainly fits in Hundley’s case.


  9. 18 USC 113(a)(5) — applicable to aircraft incidents, provides:

    (5) Simple assault, by a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both, or if the victim of the assault is an individual who has not attained the age of 16 years, by fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or both.


    This is now a high profile case (Google his name) and no prosecutor will cut him much slack at all if they value their career.

    Given that his history of alcohol abuse and previous assaultive behavior has come to light, his pre-sentencing report will be “interesting” to say the least. The Court is unlikely to cut him any slack if even half of what has been reported about him is true. Stealing a few million is one thing, but hitting a baby is something else.

    Also, if he has to spend any time at all in prison, other inmates tend to have it in for anyone who abuses children or animals. Even if his stay is a short one, it will be a miserable one. Placement will have to be in a protective custody (PC) unit. That will be necessary or the likelihood of him surviving long enough to serve his time would be low.

    PC is a maximum security unit in any prison, and he will be in his cell 23 hours a day. He will not be allowed out of his cell for exercise or shower while other inmates are out, because the risk of him being shanked or garroted will be too high.

    As for future employment, he will now be radioactive as far as any Human Resource department is concerned, provided the HR manager has at least as many brain cells as a planaria.

  10. Wow, Mike Spindell, you clearly have a brilliant legal mind; how insightful. Oh, and you forgot the obvious battery charge too.

  11. Balanced,

    I’m not a Lawyer by fact, or claim. However, I am balanced emotionally and intellectually, while some only claim to be. :)

  12. Mike,

    I tend not to grab for the obvious in cases like this; there will be plenty of others that do, so I look for other aspects of legal intrigue. My comment was not to encourage mom-slapping, it was to highlight the comparative attractiveness of defending a mom-slapper versus a baby slapper.

    So please stay out of my sandbox if you don’t bring the right toys.

  13. “So please stay out of my sandbox if you don’t bring the right toys.”

    Ah Balanced, but this is my sandbox as well.

  14. I think frustration existed…. But the charge is vald especially after he used the race card…. I think he probably would have reacted even if it had been a white kid…

  15. I’m glad this guy got what he deserved so far. But it is interesting to me how completely he could have done himself in with a simple assault case. It seems a perfect storm of the elements to rack it up

    Contrast this with an ordinary assault

    1) Joe Nobody suspect
    2) Joe Blow victim
    3) Suspect slaps victim for insulting his wife
    4) Witness calls local police
    5) Police officer determines case is not worth prosecuting because the two Joe’s are town drunks and witness doesn’t want to make a statement.

    Now Joe Hundley’s case

    1) Corporate Executive suspect
    2) Distressed baby as victim
    3) Suspect slaps baby for crying after calling a baby a N—-r.
    4) On an commercial airliner giving the case Federal jurisdiction
    5) Air Traffic Controller calls for police
    6) Witness highly motivated to make a statement
    7) Charging affidavit document that begins “I…am a special agent of the FBI”
    8) Event leaked to the national news sparking outrage
    9) Employer greatly desires to avoid embarassment and scandal.
    10) Sentencing enhancement of six months for minor child
    11) U.S. District Court Judge.

    Yep, I’d say he is toast.

  16. Mike Spindell – perhaps the issues are unresolved because here because we never let them go. In sharp contrast to Canada, Europe, and the rest of the world.

    Violence against another is a crime against humanity. The motivation (excepting self-defense), should not matter.

  17. We read all the stories of the way some defense contractors work. Maybe this was just pro forma, he simply he forgot he was here where it is illegal.

  18. Eric:

    my sentiments too, although I was labled a mysogynist on another thread for daring to think men and women are equal and that we are all human beings and that is the only group that matters.

  19. The nasty looks and comments people give to parents w/ a child crying on a plane are horrible. My wife and I instinctively smile and offer help. I’ve seen others do the same, but we are a distinct minority in our selfish culture.

  20. “Mike Spindell – perhaps the issues are unresolved because here because we never let them go. In sharp contrast to Canada, Europe, and the rest of the world.”


    So what is it that you are really implying by that statement which is open to much interpretation of meaning?

    You might for instance be implying, taking your words positively, that America still holds onto bigotry against people of color, as the rest of the world leaves it behind. A fair statement, with much evidence backing it up, at least in this country, but worldwide I think bigotry against color still is rampant.

    Then again you might be implying something else in that statement, which in truth I have heard many times before. That implication is that race is an issue in this country because people of color continue to make it an issue. If its in that context then I think it would fall into the blame the victims category and is therefore not a profound, or even valid point.

  21. “I was labled a mysogynist on another thread for daring to think men and women are equal and that we are all human beings and that is the only group that matters.”


    As you should know by now I specifically did not label you a misogynist for your views. However, men and women are unfortunately not equal in this country and never have been. Were that the case legislators in your own state would not have considered passing a law that would have required the invasion of their vagina’s for no reason whatsoever but for the woman’s attempt to exercise her Constitutional Freedom. Since all men over 40 should get colonoscopy’s, how far you you think a legislator in your state would get if he proposed mandatory colonoscopy’s? If many people believe it is lawful to legislate what women do with their own bodies and get elected with those views, then there is no way women have equal rights with me.

  22. OS:

    “The president of an Idaho aircraft parts manufacturer is accused of slapping a crying 19-year-old boy during a flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta.”

    Not to bad mouth all Idahoans but I think I see why.

  23. Bron,

    I did not see the “19 year old” quote. Obviously a typo, but scrolled back up through the thread and did not see that.

    From what I read, the child did not start to cry until the plane started its descent. Babies and young children do not know how to equalize pressure in the ears by swallowing, coughing or blowing their nose to make their ears “pop.” When the plane starts its descent, the cabin pressure changes. Most airlines pressurize the cabin for a constant 7,000 feet when flying at altitude, but when they descend through that altitude, cabin pressure is normalized to ambient outside pressure. To a kid, that is painful and scary. When the grandkids were young, we sometimes had to pull off the road and park to calm them down when out driving in the mountains.

    I have friends in Idaho, and once nearly took a job teaching at a university there. Joe Rickey Hundley is like the Tennessee drug squad. You really have to work at it to embarrass a whole state.

  24. Eric – we focus on race in this case because the guy called the 2 year old “nigger baby”.

    It might also be educational to read the comments online for this story & how many morons assumed the parents are black so this is just an excuse to sue for big bucks. You could feel the wind whip when photos of the parents showed they were white & dozens of idjits had to figure out how all their comments about why would you expect anything else from people of color needed to be readdressed.

  25. Mike Spindell – My point was the first one you described, there is no hidden message. I have lived here in the United States for over 20 years, but I grew up in Canada and I have spent a great deal of time in Europe – both as a child and as an adult working. I remember being shocked when I first moved here at how focused nearly everyone seemed to be on issues of race.

    I believe this comes from a fundamental difference in the American Culture. In Canada, we were taught from the youngest age that our country was a “Cultural Mosaic” — a wonderful collage of differences that make a beautiful whole. We were also taught that the United States was a “Cultural Melting Pot” where everyone was expected to drop their differences (or to hide them) and to “blend” in to the American dream. I believe that much of Western Europe and the rest of the world leans more towards the Canadian model which I believe leads to more harmonious relationships than “My way or the highway” which seems to prevail here.

    While I agree with you that there is still discrimination around the world, I disagree that it is only against people of color. People have been discriminating against others, different from them, since the dawn of history. It is the mark of low self esteem — I am better than (I think I am) because I am certainly better than you because you are in this bad group and I am in this good group – the group could be race, tribe, religion, school, you name it.

    This will not change until people 1) stop seeing themselves as different than others (which is my point above), and 2) start feeling better about themselves which is independent of income or social status and requires significant self discovery. It all comes down to compassion — for yourself first, and then for others. Once you have achieved that, even in a small way, discrimination is not possible for you. This can not be legislated.

    In my opinion, there is little difference between “progressives” and “conservatives” on this issue. As long as you divide people into groups and label them – either out loud or just in your head – as either “good” or “bad”, you are discriminating and you are not able to take the next step.

    Finally, if none of this is sufficient to persuade us to drop long standing traditions and beliefs we are so invested in, there is my favorite quote from Oprah:

    “Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.”

    Very powerful when you think about it with the logical mind. Whomever has “wronged” you, you can’t change what happened. Start from where you are and work forwards.

  26. You know Mike S.,

    I think the guys pulling your chains and winning… I’m sure you know how to be dismissive.

  27. “I think the guys pulling your chains and winning”


    You can’t win them all and I gave up trying years ago. :) As for Bron he was labeled a misogynist on the other thread and I was expressing my disagreement that he was so labeled.

  28. Mike,

    By your own words when someone labels you, it’s still an insult. I think you’re being dismissive if Bron staring to you he was labeled a mysogynist… How can it be any clearer?

  29. Frankly – I did read the story and I understand that he made that very hateful comment. My point is that slapping the toddler is what we should be focused on – not his motivation. My opinion is the same with respect to hate crimes. If someone assaults or kills another, it matters not why. The victims are of equal value and equally deserving of protection.

  30. ” White denial isn’t simply outward disavowal but a defense of self.”

    “Such denial is neither simply reflective of a lack of knowledge about the ongoing history of racism, nor do these predicable responses simply reflect an absence of the necessary language to actually talk about racism (the difference between prejudice and racism; what constitutes institutional racism; what is a micro aggression). While the limited knowledge about history of racism and the absence of the requisite literary to engage in these important conversations are important, so too is white privilege. White privilege not only allows whites to be blind to racial profiling, stop and frisk, redlining, housing discrimination, and the myriad of examples of institutional racism, but it incentivizes protecting the status quo. This helps us understand the myriad of studies that show that whites think the scale of race relations is tilted in the favor of communities of color.

    Yet, even the privileges that sequester whites away from the consequences and realities of white supremacy do not explain the extent of denial, an almost pathological refusal to look at racism within our legal, political, and cultural institutions–but that are visible in everyday life.”

  31. “Very powerful when you think about it with the logical mind. Whomever has “wronged” you, you can’t change what happened. Start from where you are and work forwards.”


    I accept that you meant it in the sense of the first proposition. Oprah’s proposition and your elaboration do make sense. However, that “sense” when it comes to the individual person who has been badly treated, because seeing oneself as a “victim” is personally self defeating. For a group of people who continue to suffer from being held back by endemic racism they need more than their personal growth to redress the wrong.

  32. Mike Spindell & Swarthmore Mom — Folks in other countries, that have chosen to emphasize the things they share over the differences we continue to focus on here in the USA have had better results. They are happier by any index, they have less strife, the “vibe” is much better, and there is less income disparity. Slavery started in continental Europe but somehow, we are the ones still focused on it. They have moved on and they have surpassed us.

    There is allot of money for the media and politicians in emphasizing the negative. Negative energy is much more powerful than positive energy — just notice next time how easy it is to get drawn into a negative conversation — notice the effect it has on your feeling of well being and how long it lasts and the effect it has on others around you – how quickly a crowd grows, all joining in the negative energy. When you notice it, ask yourself if this is the type of energy, that you want to add to the world?

    It takes effort to focus on the positive because it is not how we have been trained, but I think its worth it. I am not suggesting that we bury our heads in the sand, but that we contribute our energy to those things we want more of in this world, not less of. That will get the change we want to see. Martin Luther King took this approach, as did Ghandi, and they both effected remarkable change – change that transformed entire societies, if not the entire world.

    In “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein, there is a great quote “Where the eyes go, the car goes” meaning that, in life, you tend to find what you are looking for. There is both beauty and strife in this world, and there allays will be. As individuals and societies, we will get more of what we focus our energy on, negative or positive, and less of what we do not focus on. The choice is ours.

  33. Im curious as to the Company firing this employee who was on a personal trip. How can this not be considered wrongful termination? If he wasn’t representing the company when on this flight, how could he be fired?

  34. Clinton,
    Getting arrested on Federal charges is a good way to get fired from any job. In cases like that, management typically suspends the employee while they gather facts. Then the next step is to confer with company lawyers. If the lawyers opine the firing is for cause, he can kiss his severance package goodby, and he will not be eligible for unemployment benefits.

    Causing your employer a public relations nightmare will get you fired every time. Additionally, since they are defense contractors, any security clearance he had will be jerked by the government. That makes him worthless as an employee, much less a top executive.

  35. AY,

    Been there, done that. Was labeled many times in my career for not being able to be trusted, because I wouldn’t do anything against my ethics. I coulda been a contender, but I refused to sell out. That’s my story at least and I’m sticking to it.

  36. Bron – couldn’t agree more. Once you start to really view us all as the same, man – woman – black – white, prejudice is simply not possible for you. True, honest compassion beats guilt for results every time.

  37. I don’t see how anyone drinking alcohol can use that as an excuse or explanation for this conduct–even if the guy was bi-polar in addition to being intoxicated.

    I’ve flown on many a plane with a crying child on board, and it’s never bothered me, even when I happen to be sitting very close to the child. It’s no big deal for people who have children of their own or have been around this who do. This guy sounds like a creepy sadist.

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