May 31st, 2012
11:10 AM ET

Face-attack suspect's mother: My son 'was no zombie'

The mother of Rudy Eugene, who was shot and killed by a police officer as he chewed the face off a homeless man in Miami, says her son was "a nice kid" who could have been subdued with a Taser rather than gunfire.

"He was a good kid. He gave me a nice card on Mother’s Day. Everyone says he was a zombie. He was no zombie. That was my son,” the mother, who asked that her name not be revealed, told CNN affliate WFOR.

'Zombie apocalypse' trending as bad news spreads quickly

Eugene, 31, was killed by a police officer on Saturday after an 18-minute attack on a homeless man, identified by police as 65-year-old Ronald Poppo. Video of the incident shows Eugene coming across Poppo on a sidewalk along Miami's MacArthur Causeway, stripping clothes off him and eventually chewing on his face.

Police said Poppo lost 75% of his face in the attack. He was in critical condition at a Miami hospital.

Eugene's mother said police didn't need to shoot her son.

"They could have tased him," she told WFOR. "I saw what happened on TV and I started crying.”

Eugene's girlfriend, who also requested anonymity from WFOR, said the attacker seen in that video was nothing like the man she lived with.

“He loved God. He always read the Bible. He would give you knowledge on the Bible. Everywhere he went his Bible went. When he left he had his Bible in his hand,” the girlfriend is quoted as saying.

“That wasn’t him, that was his body but it wasn’t his spirit.  Somebody did this to him,” WFOR quotes her as saying.

Fraternal Order of Police President Armando Aguilar told CNN affiliate WPLG that he suspects Eugene was under the influence of "bath salts," a drug that contains synthetic stimulants that can "cause chest pains, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia, and delusions," according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

"He was a nice, outgoing, ready-to-help-anybody kind of guy," Cassandra Metayer, a high school friend of Eugene's, told WFOR. “Someone in their right mind doesn’t do that. This is not the act of a normal person. It has to be someone under the influence."

Sgt. Javier Ortiz, vice president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, said officials won't know for certain whether drugs played a role in the attack until toxicology reports are completed in a month or so. But he said police have been seeing increased incidents of drug-induced crime in the area.

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Filed under: Crime • Drugs • Florida
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  1. O my science

    In February 2004, police officers reported to Eugene's family home on Northeast 176th Street in North Miami Beach. They found his father, whose first name is Melimon, standing outside the house, afraid to get in between his son and wife.

    Cops heard Eugene screaming at his mother: "You see what I can do!" and "How do you feel now!"

    When the officers entered the home, Eugene balled his hands into a fist and demanded: "What are you gonna do? What? You gonna shock me?"

    He threatened the officer, according to the police report, saying: "I'll kick your ass." That's when Eugene earned the dubious distinction of being the first perp ever Tased in North Miami Beach.

    Afterward, Eugene's mother Ruth told officers that he had said: "I'll put a gun to your head and kill you."

    May 31, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply

    May 31, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. WP

    Yea this definitely sounds like the family is going to sue the police department for shooting their zombie son....

    May 31, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bugbait

    I'm pretty impressed that the poor cop didn't kill him immediately, without warning, without a request to desist. I can't imagine coming across something like that and not shooting to kill on sight. IMO, the cop's training held up very well. Sorry mom, but tasers are for your run-of-the-mill violent offenders, not growling naked CITA cannibals.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ascpgh

    Ma'am, your naked son was chewing the face off of a homeless man on a public street and growled at the responding officers telling him to stop.

    I find no fault in their split second decision that a tazer was not going to have much effect and for the guy getting his face eaten their decision might have spared him more injury. That they managed to kill him without additionally injuring his victim (you own that image, lady) is impressive. Cannot think of a more disturbing scene onto which to arrive and have to immediately act with force.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. iamkeisa

    The way it's being reported in the media, you would think they knew for sure that he was under the influence of these "bath salts". The President of the Fraternal Order of the Police "suspects" something so the headlines are made to read like there's an official autopsy report? Is it not possible that he's just a nut job that needs to be locked away forever?

    May 31, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck in Jasper, Ga.

      Quite obviously, he does not need to be locked away any longer.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. sleepytime

    He read the Bible you say? Well then he couldn't possibly have done anything wrong. Isn't that right, Msgr. Lynn?

    May 31, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Realist

    It's amazing how every black mother says they're sons are saintly choir boys who won't step on an ant. They won't step on an ant, but they'll eat a guy's face off.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • lol

      You must not have read the article! He is nice because he gave her a nice mothers day card.... Lol

      May 31, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • shura53

      no kidding. he was a good guy...i don't know any good guys who eats ppl face. he should die at the hands of jessie and al

      May 31, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      It has nothing to do with the mother being black! Mothers defend their children, it's what they do. Leave race out of it!

      May 31, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • ironfray

      So this is a racial thing now eh? Crazy is crazy.. no matter what skin color. Grow up.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • lauren

      good point. if they were all choir boys jail would be the morman tabernacle choir.

      May 31, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Or kill someone for an ipod

      May 31, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Or they'll kill them for a phone

      May 31, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • MAria

      NOT EVERY black mother...just his

      May 31, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • rh

      Stupid parents who cause their child's insanity and then rationalize it have no color boundaries.

      May 31, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • StereoType Feeder

      I'm sure you would like to believe this to be true but I guarantee the only black people you know are through the media and news channels or are just plain undeducated..But then again to you types, ALL blacks are poor and uneducated..

      May 31, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Makeral

      So what do white mothers say?

      May 31, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mrs Norman


      May 31, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • fanofconservdeez

      Not every "black" mother...but every Mother! Obviously something was wrong with this young man, he wasn't known to do anything like that, he went to church, but drugs are a terrible thing. What he did was unconscionable, but this is her son and she has every right to believe in him and to defend him. I pray for everyone involved in this tragic event.

      May 31, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Claire

      It's called unconditional love. Many mothers are afflicted with the condition.

      May 31, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doodlebug2222

      I know many people that carry their bibles with them, as they are late to work and early to leave. These same quote the bible and pepper their conversations with Amen, Blessed Be and Hallaijuah – often in the same breath curtly addressing a co-worker or client, gossiping, and spending hours on personal phone calls during work hours – chatting it up to mom, sister, etc... These same folks go to church often, but at the same time – plot against each other as they undermine – backstab and etc.... Holding, reading, quoting from a bible means nothing – going to church as much as possible – means nothing. How you live, how you treat others – means ... everything.

      May 31, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • KH16

      Yeah, because White mothers always hold their kids accountable and don't try to make a million excuses for them. Especially white people with money.

      May 31, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • JT Hawaii

      You're so pathetic to make such an observation. I'm sure every mother of every white kid who did bad absolutely knew their kid was messed up. Stop with the infantile generalities.

      May 31, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • in8te

      "every black mother says" the operative word is mother. black, white, brown, yellow, shiny pink, they are mothers. Have mercy. Their crime is loving. I quesion to your insensitive remark. It seems to suggest an entirely different agenda.

      May 31, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChildOfCorn

      Uh huh. I think you can apply that to EVERY mom of a criminal, not just black ones. Can the racism.

      May 31, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • peoplethesedays

      what does black have to do with anything? as we know most white people eat other people hint jeffrey dahmer who liked minorities. Keep race out of this. Most white parents whose kids shoot up the schools say they were nice to so what are you talking about? Race/Mothers means what everyone says there kids are nice

      June 1, 2012 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Vicky

      Almost every mother would say that. Not ...just black mothers, you buffoon.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Crunch N Munch

      Well ya, because homeless men aren't real people in GOD's eyes, so apparently it's ok, but GOD Forbid if this guy decided to bite the head off of an animal. Guess that's why there aren't many colored folks at OZZY concerts.

      June 1, 2012 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Mahagwa

      by your deduction, i guess all of us black males are cannibals...
      in that case, next time you see a black man coming down the street, turn around and run as fast as you can, before your ignorant self winds up as dinner

      June 1, 2012 at 3:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      flashback to scene from Psycho. Norman sitting in a chair showing he won't kill a fly that landed on him but .....

      June 1, 2012 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Aeromechanic

      Not the most intelligent creatures are they?

      June 1, 2012 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Apocalypse No

      @Realist: you have no contact at all with reality. " every black mother..." Seriously, you are delusional if you actually believe such a statement. It maybe escaped your notice that every white mother of a white criminal also defends her white son. Ever hear of Jeffrey Dahmer? John Wayne Gacy? John Hinkley Jr.? Racists like you seem to forget that crime has no color. Serial killers are typically young white men, but I doubt you'd make any kind of statement about "every white mother calls her son an angel". But you have no hesitation to take the case of this deranged man to spout your racist comments. I'll bet your buddies in Nazi Germany had mothers who thought their sons were really nice guys, too.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • M Johnson

      "every black mother" ??? SO have you like met all the "black mothers" out there? Man, you get around.

      June 22, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Johnson Huffman

    The mother has no right to blame the police officer. Ask herself what she will do if someone is chewing off her son's face. If your son is taking drugs at the age of 30s, it is your failure and shame. Don't always resort to humanity to defend your interest and love. You treat others like crap in this way.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Buckwheat

    I know i seen him on the tv series "THE WALKING DEAD"

    May 31, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jobriath

    This is what will happen if the democrats or republicans get into office. I mean, wait, this is because Obama hates America but might be because Romney is fake and out of touch. No, it's the loss of family values, I mean the increase in religious nuts. The important things is, it's clearly due to what I oppose.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • soundsfishie

      haha jobraith ... good one.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Former F-22 Raptor Pilot

    I'm looking fwd to seeing this kid's photos that I'm sure the family will provide to humanize him in the media.

    Here's little Rudy at his high school graduation, "gnawing on his girlfriend's ear".

    Little Rudy at age 10, outside the morgue, "looking for leftovers".

    It's going to be epic. Thanks in advance CNN.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Billy

    It's a sad day when most of the comments are either gallows humor or directed at the idiot family. Where is the horror? Where is the empathy for the victim? Where is the outrage over the fact that car after car drove by this scene for 18 minutes without stopping?

    May 31, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michael Brown

      That's because most Americans are complete imbeciles. There's a reason why the country is going to spit and it's not just the government and corporations at play. The people are just as much to blame.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Actual Cannibal Shia LeBeouf

    At least he wasn't a straight cannibal. Then he would have probably eaten someones face and then denied them their rights because his cannibal handbook told him so.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sly

    "somebody did this to him".

    Americans, heck, most humans, are weak and ignorant, which is why they blame everyone else.

    Look in a mirror. Stop with your whining "the government did this" "the President did that".

    Worst of all are the political whiners, who every 4 years vote for 1 candidate/party, then go on to whine about them and say "throw them out". Most voters are so stupid they don't even understand how Congress works anyway, but does that stop them from whining and blaming?

    "This athelete makes too much" "Actors shouldn't make this much".

    Americans are weak people, blamers and haters. You sound like many Muslims "Its all Americas fault". Blame blame blame, but NEVER an intelligent proposal for a solution. It's always the other guys fault. Weak people.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melodykari78

      I just blame the devil for bad things and praise Jesus for the good stuff.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Knucklehead

      Didn't hear any solutions from you, either. How do you propose to reduce face-eating in the U.S.?

      May 31, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Greg

    I can't believe this hasn't been turned into a race issue. White cop shooting a black guy...I'm holding my breath.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
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