Man Who Slapped Toddler on Plane Has Tragic Reason for His Actions

Joe Rickey HundleyJoe Rickey Hundley is a 60-year-old man accused of a horrific crime. Allegedly, on a plane last month, he slapped a crying toddler on a plane and told the baby's mother to "shut that (n-word) baby up." It's unconscionable, horrible, and memorable because of the depravity. And yet, now, his defense lawyer says Hundley was just insane with grief, flying out to Atlanta to take his only child off life support.

So should that matter?

Since the incident, Hundley, who worked for AGC Aerospace and Defense, has lost his job. He is being tried and could face prison and a six-figure fine for his allegedly drunken assault on a defenseless baby. And yet, as a mom, I can't help but feel for him.

Anyone who has been through horrible grieving can attest that you feel out of it, irritable, drunk even at times. There is a lot to be said for emotion that feels hard to control and overwhelming.

Add alcohol and what appears to be a particularly surly personality and you could get a toxic mix.

There is no excuse for laying hands on a baby. None. It's indefensible. And his use of a racial slur reveals that he is a racist, no matter how you slice it. This isn't a man who deserves much compassion. And yet, I can't help but imagine the pain and grief I might feel in similar circumstances. I have no doubt I could control myself better than him, but I am not emotionally stunted or repressed.

Again, there is no excuse. But there are extenuating circumstances, reasons a judge might consider not giving him jail time and instead just imposing the fine with probation.

This is what our courts look for. They look for reasons and background and we owe it to defendants to listen to them. No one could excuse what Hundley has done here. But he does look slightly more sympathetic now despite his intolerable actions.

Having been through grief enough times, I know you aren't always in control of yourself. In my case, I would have been more likely to hug inappropriately or cry on someone's shoulder. And there is no doubt Hundley needs counseling and some kind of anger management course as well as owing that baby a fine and a massive apology.

But I am not sure about jail time. I just don't know if that would solve the problem. In this case, the extenuating circumstances do make me feel for the defendant.

Do you think the judge should go easier because of what happened?


Image via angeloangelo/Flickr

cruise, airplanes


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

ruby_... ruby_jewel_04

I'm sorry but this changes nothing in how I view this jack ass. If he is a parent he should understand how it is when you have a little one. He's just a Dick head. End of story.

nonmember avatar walkaboutter

This is not a defense in the least. Shame on the author for giving it oxygen.

bills... billsfan1104

There is no proof he used a racial slur. And using a racial slur doesn't make you a racist, makes you N asshole, but by always a racist.

bills... billsfan1104

But not always a racist. Damn this auto correct.


@billsfan1104:  I thought the proof of him using a racial slur came from the mother holding the child and the other passengers/witnesses? 

If he was grieving and using alcohol as a pain-killer, I still cannot muster the strength to feel bad for him.  It's a shame that his actions has caused even worse reactions that he has to deal with for a very long time.  But, I always think, if you do the crime, albeit intentional or unintentional, then you do the time.  Own up to it.  Is he a "true" racist?  Now, that is probably debatable.

PonyC... PonyChaser

Until "the N word" is completely removed from the vocabulary of this country, instead of being reserved for a priviledged few, its use is not enough to convict someone of being "racist". It was one word, possibly over the course of a lifetime. One word does not make a person "racist".

As for him hitting the child? Unexcusable. Does it require jail time? No. Our justice system is so screwed up - a guy can walk for molesting a child, but a slap gets a man jail and possible bankruptcy? BS.

He should not have been drinking. He should have been in control of his emotions. He should not have assaulted a fellow passenger, and he should face the consequences.

If you want to havea real discussion? Perhaps airlines should consider eliminating alcohol from flights. We hear of more incidents that are fueled because the passenger was drunk.

nonmember avatar Tonya

I agree that there is now an explanation, there is still no excuse. I do feel badly for all involved, and I can somewhat identify. When my father was dying, I was someone other than myself. I had more rage-filled outbursts in that short time than I had my previous thirty years combined, and nobody was safe. I had very heated confrontations with a neighbor, one of my children's teachers, a trucker who ran me off a road, anyone who crossed my path. (The trucker threatened to kill me as I was ranting. I can laugh about that now.) My point is, that was not me. Thankfully, I never crossed the line that this man did, but sadly, I can't say I wouldn't have. I'm nearly certain I'd never slap someone else's child or use the n word......but in the face of the most devastating thing any of us can imagine...the loss of a child...I am not positive what I'd be capable of. People snap. And then they must pay the price.

nonmember avatar Erika

Sorry, but if you use that word you ARE a can't live in this country without knowing how racially charged and insensitive that word is; and how much pain and grief it causes people. You can be a little racist without believing in lynchings, but a little racist is STILL racist.

nonmember avatar Desiree

Wouldn't it be nice if we could do whatever we wanted just because we were stressed, stricken with greif or upset. The majority of incidents aren't because someone was having a great day and decided to haul off and hurt someone. There is no excuse.

nonmember avatar Val

He is pleading "not guilty" because of his excuse of being drunk and under stress because of his only child being on life support. He is STILL GUILTY. I am sick of people using excuses for their inexcusable behavior. Actions have consequences and it is time that the courts in this country stop coddling people who violate other people's rights, especially when it involves nasty racially motivated comments to go with the insult to the injury. He dishonored his own child by attacking another and using his child as an excuse to do so.

1-10 of 241 comments 12345 Last