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
soundoff (1,699 Responses)
  1. Klaas Jan

    Subdued with a taser?? This monster was warned several times to stop, and was shot once in a non-fatal manner. He was eating a mans face, was a menace to society, and was fit to be shot.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jm8898

    Sorry, but one chooses to do illegal mind-altering drugs at their own peril. Thank you to the police officer for saving society from the cost and futility of rehabilitating and/or incarcerating this defective human being.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      How do you know he was on drugs and wasn't infected with an extremely virulent form of Rabbies?

      May 31, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Robby

    If this guy loved God, I would hate to see someone that loved Satan!

    May 31, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Troy

    I don't know what is more shocking, the cannibalism tinge to the story, or the fact that Rev.(s) Al and Jesse haven't shown up to do some grandstanding about the senseless, completely unwarranted killing of another black man?!?!?!?!

    May 31, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Frank

    I don't know why everyone is this guy was evil. Clearly, the face eater had no clue what was going on. He likely had a very virulent form of Rabbies. Which medically speaking would seem consistent with his behaviour. Finally, if the guy was at this stage in the diseas , he would soon be dead anyway as there are only I believe 2 confirmed cases of people living after such incident and both were severely disabled afterward. This guy was a deadman walking. I don't understand all the hate towards him, it's obvious the man wasn't a psychopath, he likely had a medical disease.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chrissy

      -or maybe he was on drugs as suspected by authorities versus having an extremely rare disease in humans (rabies) with no apparent warning signs of illness from his roomate/girlfriend.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Forever

    This is just crazy and insane...who would eat someone else's face. I gotta admit though feel sorry for the mom, but that kid deserved to get shot at.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • phearis

      Uhhhhhh, that "Kid" was 31 years old and free-based bath-salts until he went nuts enough to eat someone's face.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chrissy

    although I think Mom wasn't aware that her sone was using drugs, myself and some of my coworkers were wondering the same thing...why not just taze him versus kill him? He was on the other side of a wall, and seemingly not too interested in teh officers as much as his meal. They should have been able to taze him and then subdue him easily enough. The video shows that the officers were not being directly threatened or advanced upon. Sure, this was a horrific crime. However, excessive force seems to have been used.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robby

      You gotta be joking right? A person is eating the face off of another person. If I was that guy that flagged down the cop, and had a gun, I would have been justified in killing him myself. He was killing another human being. It's called being a good Samaritan people!

      May 31, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott C

      Tase him?? Are you kidding? He continued his attack after he was shot. What good would a taser be? No, he needed to be shot, until dead, and then hauled off. Simple .

      May 31, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heyitsme

      ..according to the cops because he was on the other side of the wall? or according to the man that was getting his face chewed off. Are you even LISTENING to yourself? The point was to get him to stop eating, and he shot him once and he never flinched. Sorry, but if that's me – shoot that jerk until he stops. What you are seeing now is a woman that is missing her son – and I feel for her, I honestly do, but – um, what about the mother of the person getting his face eaten? I'm sure if that was YOUR kid – you'd be singing another tune and quickly.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Caz

      From what I've heard about the incidents with this drug, tazing the person does nothing because they are so hyped up. You can even shoot them several times and they will still keep coming at you.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vince

      No, no, no! This was a LIFE OR DEATH situation. The victim was close to death. The cop made the right call. If a BULLET did not immediately stop him then what makes you think a taser would have?

      May 31, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • What

      So, what you're saying is that if someone was on you eating 75% OF YOUR FACE off...you would want the cop to taze the guy? No way. He kept eating the dudes face even after being shot..

      May 31, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • PacManZombie

      Yeah, I don't think a tazer would have worked anyway. They SHOT him with a bullet and he kept on nom-nom-nom'ing away. I think the police responded appropriately to this situation.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Megma

    It sounds like the cop made the right call, given the scenario. However, at the risk of asking a stupid question, here goes: Could the cop have actually tased Eugene? Wouldn't that have tased the victim, too? (I'm just wondering if the current would have traveled from the attacker to the victim, since they were "connected", if you will.)

    May 31, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. End Is Near

    He was eating thru the face to get to the brains.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kelly

    Awe. He must have been ok if he gave a nice Mother's Day card.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robby

      I laughed a little too loud at this, good one.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Gsxr750

    Whether Rudy was a "nice kid" is irrelevant. He chose a course of action whether drug induced or not that sent him down an animalistic course of chewing off 75% of another human being's face and because of that choice he suffered the consequences. With all due respect, how do you think the mother of the man whose face is 75% gone feels?

    May 31, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Redstar

    What a coincident! Travon Martin was a nice kid too! Until he tried to beat someones head into the sidewalk for following/talking to him...

    Too bad Zimmerman didn't drive by this attack, unlike the other people who did and kept going – he is a citizen that would have done something.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tastes like chicken

    She goes on and on about what a nice guy her son was and blames the cop for not tazing him, meanwhile his victim is in critical condition missing 75% of his face.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jane

    We don't know if whatever happened to this man's brain on that day was reversible or not. If it wasn't, would the mother really want her son to live the rest of his life as a mindless beast in a padded cell? And if it was, would he really have wanted to recover his wits and learn what he'd done while insane? I say with all sympathy for this woman that her son is better off dead.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Josh

    He took a Bible everywhere, further confirmation that he was crazy.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
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