TODDLER SLAPPED: Parents describe 'unprovoked, racist' assault - New York News

TODDLER SLAPPED: Parents describe 'unprovoked, racist' assault

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

All weekend, the story of a Twin Cities toddler who was allegedly slapped in the face by a corporate executive aboard a flight to Atlanta has been making headlines. Now, the family is speaking out.

The suspect, 60-year-old Joe Hundley, is facing a single count of simple assault and is now out of a job after the Minneapolis family says a nasty combination of alcohol, racism and a crying baby at 30,000 feet ended in a slap.

The Bennetts told FOX 9 News they are speaking out because they want to expose what they called "the ugliness of it all."

Since the story first appeared, many people have been asking how anyone could lay a hand on a child.

"I have no idea," Jess Bennett told FOX 9 News. "No idea."

Jess Bennett explained that she was flying on a late evening flight from Minneapolis on Friday, Feb. 8, with her 19-month-old son, Jonah, in her lap when Hundley sat next to them. From the start, Bennett said she could tell he wasn't happy to be there.

"He got belligerent. Making comments, pressing help button, trying to tell staff he was too big to be a lap baby," she recalled.

Bennett said Hundley appeared drunk from the get-go, boarding the plane with glassy eyes and smelling of booze, but she said Delta flight attendants served him more alcohol after takeoff.

With a full flight and feeling uncomfortable with what she described as a deteriorating situation in her row, Jess Bennett opted to take Jonah and stand in the back of the plane; however, when they returned to their seats for the final descent, things went from bad to worse when Jonah began to cry.

"He looked right at my face and says, 'F----ing n-----,'" she said. "I said, 'What did you say to me?' He got real ugly and hateful, and he pushed himself onto my face and fell into me with all his weight and said it meaner and louder into my ear."

With Jonah still crying, Bennett said Hundley took a swipe at her son.

"I don't know how exactly, but his hand definitely came down with force right at his face and Jonah was cut," she said. "He was cut."

Even now, there is a slight scratch near the boy's eye. Jonah's father, Josh -- who is trained in mixed-martial-arts -- said he regrets not being there for his family.

"Helpless is really the best word, as a husband and a father. Your job, you feel like your job as a man, is to protect your family," he said.

The Bennetts say they hope Hundley will spend some time behind bars for what they call a racist and unprovoked physical assault.

"You want to be racist? That's fine. I feel bad for you, but you can't lay hands on anybody ever," Josh Bennett said. "Nobody has the right to do that."

The Bennetts say they were disappointed a Delta flight crew didn't do more to diffuse the situation. The airline said only that they are cooperating fully with the investigation.

Attempts to reach Hundley and his attorney for comment were unsuccessful.

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