Posted: Feb 18, 2013 8:58 AM by CBS News
Updated: Feb 18, 2013 10:03 AM
An Idaho man faces a federal assault charge and allegedly hitting a crying child and using a racial slur on board a recent flight.
The trouble started brewing almost immediately when Jessica Bennett and her 2-year-old adopted son Jonah took their seats next to Joe Hundley on a flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta earlier this month.
"I said, 'Oh, we are sitting next to you,' and he just basically rolled his eyes and growled at us," Bennett said.
Hundley allegedly began to complain that Jonah was too big to sit on his mother's lap, becoming more outspoken as the flight continued. Bennett said, "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 stood there with Jonah for 90 minutes -- only returning for the landing. When the two sat down, Jonah began to cry, and Hundley became irate. Bennett said, "He looked at me in a very hateful way and he said ... shut that (N-word) kid up!"
Shocked, Bennett said she gave Hundley a second chance. She said she asked him "'What did you say?"
Hundley pushed up against her face and repeated himself. When she pushed back, he slapped Jonah across the face.
Days later, Hundley was charged with assault, punishable by up to one year in jail. And while Jonah suffered only a minor scrape, his mother worries about the long-term damage.
Bennett said, "He has suffered effects from this for sure."
Hundley was president of a division of AGC Aerospace, an airplane parts manufacturer. The company issued a statement, while not naming him, calling his behavior offensive and saying he was "no longer employed by the company," though it's not clear whether he was fired or resigned.