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. Ed

    If Obama had a zombie son, he'd look like Rudy.

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

      Ok, that made me LOL.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • K

      @Ed-Why?

      May 31, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Marc

    Are you kidding me? The girlfriend and mother are totally in denial. A cop tells you to stop and you don't, you get what you deserve, ESPECIALLY if you're eating someone's face off. Next they're going to say if he was a caucasion (would say white zombie, but they were an awesome band) zombie they wouldn't have shot him, and that's about the point I don't want to live on this planet anymore.... Let's stop zombie racism before it starts.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mb65

    The mother is as dillusional as the son............................

    May 31, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Undead Spokesman

    I am tired of reading these comments rehashing Zombie stereotypes.

    Zombies are loyal and hardworking non-living Americans.

    Its not like anyone was going to miss one 65 year old transient...

    May 31, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ann F.

    First of all, REALLY ??? I understand the mother, she is looking at the situation as a mother however, let's be realistic your son did have a lot of issues with the law in the past including drugs, where you not aware of them? Walking around with a Bible and preaching the word is fine and dandy, but pratice what you preach, where in in the Bible does it say to use drugs, eat people's faces etc. Girlfriend, you I don't know what world you live in, or you are just made at your own life, both of you are in denial. Now question for both mother and girlfriend: What if Mr. Poppo had done to your son what your son did to Mr. Poppo???? Would you ladies have the same compassion ??? I'm not judging any one, this are facts, Rudy would not stop doing that act of insane violence and the police where doing there job. You say someone did this to him, NO he did it to himself, he put the drugs in his own mouth. It's in the Bible ladies free will God gives you free will, right or wrong, you have to pick and Rudy picked his own path, so please don't blame nobody and PLEASE do not use the Bible or God's name that is sacred in this HORROR.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. James

    "He was a good kid. He gave me a nice card on Mother’s Day."

    Seriously, lady?? That's your definition of a good kid?!?!

    (facepalm)

    May 31, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JBrad

    "....who could have been subdued with a Taser rather than gunfire." Please news media keep the microphone away from the mother and the girlfriend. The girlfriend stated yesterday that he was acting wierd before he left her home, just before the attack. How about you son should have stayed away from whatever stimulant he was taken during that time. To me and I don't wanna seem heartleass but it's simple as cause and effect. Cause: he took some known/unknown stimulant and attacked as innocent man that was passing by (stripping him of his clothes and chewing the flesh from his face). Effect: he was killed during the violent attack once he refused to be arrested. Plain and simple. How about next time send condolences to the victim rather then make a pointless attempt to discredit the desicion that was made by someone who witness the vicious attack.

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

      Why does he have to have a stimulant. Did we get a toxicology report. YOu do realize there are several virus's which attack the brain causing enciphilitis which can cause this behaviour. The reaction the guy had actually seems quite consistent with virulent rabies. Especially, in that the GF said the guy was starting to act strange, generally once symptoms present it's a rapid decline, and you are dead within 48 hrs to 2 weeks anyway, it's pretty much 99% death rate.

      In any case, it's like there is intense hate for this man, based on your belief about who you expect him to be in your mind without any facts. The guy never had any run in with the cops over drugs, other than marijauna, and pot heads simply don't react this way , it's a depressent. Anyway, it amuses how people don't even recognize how their prejudist and perceptions influence their reaction to how the perceive the world.

      May 31, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mouth

      I don't know why they keep blaming "Bath Salts".
      I heard about a new super weed caused some serious muchies...

      May 31, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Frank

    Ok, people, why all toward the hate towards this guy and his mom. His mom didn't say the cops were wrong for shooting my son, she said this wasn't his normal behaviour. I mean seriously don't let your blind bigotry let you hear what you want to hear anymore than it does.

    She's likely right, the guy was under the influence of something, and it doesn't have to be drugs. The guy could have had a very virulent strain of rabies or any other number of medical diseases that present with these symptoms. I don't like or appreciate all these racial undertones. Nor do I take issue with her comment , she simply said her son wasn't in his right mind, she didn't say the cops were wrong for responding as they did.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Megma

      Per the article, she did indicate that the cops didn't need to shoot her son.

      May 31, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      There's nothing racial about this. Tasers wouldn't have stopped him and the police did the right thing to stop him.

      May 31, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. KS

    Translation of his growling: "Don't tase me, bro! Nom nom nom!"

    May 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. S

    Ok..everyone does realize that this has been triggered by one of two things: psychotic breakdown or drug-induced violence (or perhaps a combination of both). Next, they (meaning the family) will certainly say everything they can in order to start proceedings for a 'wrongful death' suit against the police department. Because, that is how people roll. A lawyer has already approached them and they are making him out to be a 'fine christian man, carrying his bible to watch movies'. Yeah, right. Give me a break. So, let's see if this was drug induced or if he was just absolutely crazy.....the police had absolutely no other choice. The family should donate his brain to science....

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

      or better yet use his likeness in the next left 4 dead game.

      May 31, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Gary

    "He was a nice, outgoing, ready-to-help-anybody kind of guy," Yeah, he'd give you the shirt off of his back...and his pants and his shoes and his underwear....

    May 31, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. gdubl

    just goes to show the minute you put that Bible down....

    May 31, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger_20

      That's funny!

      May 31, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Frank

    Ok, people, why all toward the hate towards this guy and his mom. His mom didn't say the cops were wrong for shooting my son, she said this wasn't his normal behaviour. I mean seriously don't let your blind bigotry let you hear what you want to hear anymore than it does.

    She's likely right, the guy was under the influence of something, and it doesn't have to be drugs. Marijuana definitely doesn't make you act this way so I don't know where all this hyperbole is coming from with he "Had past history with drugs"

    The guy could have had a very virulent strain of rabies or any other number of medical diseases that present with these symptoms. I don't like or appreciate all these racial undertones. Nor do I take issue with her comment , she simply said her son wasn't in his right mind, she didn't say the cops were wrong for responding as they did.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Person of Interest

    Wanna know the problem with organized religion: “That wasn’t him, that was his body but it wasn’t his spirit. Somebody did this to him,”

    The devil made me do it. Rrright. Lucky the officer wasn't a better shot. I'd have aimed at the jaw and blown his face off to see how he liked it.

    We do need to feel sorry for crazy people but that doesn't mean we should tolerate what they do. You are crazy and you murder somebody you should die just as quickly as someone who "isn't crazy" that murders someone

    May 31, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mr.Ed

    I don't doubt the kid may have been a very nice person when not under the influence of something, but also if I'm a relative of the injured victim, that man needed to be shot. The attack had to be stopped immediately and someone under the influence is not always "stunned" by the taser gun but will be stopped by bullets. You simply cannot second guess an officer in that type of sudden bloody mess. I feel for his family and realize he's not a zombie but the police are also not to blame for shooting him.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
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