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. MightyMoo

    To a degree I respectfully disagree with the mother. He may have been nice kid before he took whatever it was that made him do what he did. After he took the drugs he acted very much like a zombie even though he was technically still alive. It's a shame it happened but there isn't much that can be said for it at this point. He made his choice and it cost him his life sadly and even more sadly the life of a homeless guy.

    May 31, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Matthew Dunnyveg

    CNN was right to do this article as a puff piece. The mother and girlfriend are right, too; the police should not have shot Eugene. With a name like Ronald Poppo, the victim probably isn't even a member of a PC Preferred Victims' Group. The police stopped this vibrant man of color from showing off his diversity, and should be punished accordingly.

    May 31, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. KPL

    Interesting that the mother doesn't want to release her name. Could it be that it's different from her own son, so typical in that community. No mention of a father.

    May 31, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Annekel

      Which community?

      May 31, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Church of Suicidal

      Here's hoping you're the next one eaten.

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

      The black community!?!

      May 31, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • shri

      KPL- so you mean to say only blacks are single parents? You are living in a dream world.

      May 31, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      I BET YOU THAT HE DIDN'T HAVE A FATHER... A HUGE PROBLEM IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY...I SEE MANY BLACK WOMEN WITH A BUNCH OF KIDS , BUT NO FATHER.

      May 31, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • trollhunter

      obvious troll is obviously trolling.

      May 31, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • jaime

      Yeah she did. Her name is Ruth

      May 31, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • fatman

      You are an incredible, disgusting racist. Do you think, just maybe, she does not want to mention her last name because this is a anotrious incident and she would like to retain some small shred of privacy while mourning the loss of her son? And why is the mention of a father even relevant here? Do all news stories about crime require the identification of a father (and certification that he was married to the mother)? Finally, my wife, the mother of my children, does not have the same last name as me or our kids. Is there a problem with that?

      May 31, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  4. mary

    Well if he was really a good guy and this was some kind of drug given to him. Then at least he doesn't have to live the rest of his life knowing what he did.
    it would be a miserable thing .. A horrible thing..
    He would never find peace. Or acceptance anywhere either..
    its just a tragedy all around..
    Drugs are a scourge.

    May 31, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. carl

    “That wasn’t him, that was his body but it wasn’t his spirit." sounds like a zombie to me

    May 31, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      CARL--WHEN YOU THINK YOU SEEN IT ALL ?? YOU HAVEN'T. THE FIRST THING THAT CAME TO MIND WAS DUMMER. THE GUY FROM MILWAUKEE THAT KILL PEOPLE AND EAT THEM.

      May 31, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bubba™

    "Bath salts" causes disorientation and crazy violence; so he may have been a good person sober, but didn't know what he was doing. Better dead anyway . . .

    May 31, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jacob

    If you have a gun and walk up on a man eating another mans face and you don't shoot him... something is wrong with you. If you shoot him and he looks up at you and growls... you keep pulling the trigger until you clip is empty. I would expect you all to do the same for me.

    May 31, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC

      IF A CIVILIAN DID THAT ?? IT WOULD BE AN INVESTIGATION LIKE ZIMMERMAN...ZIMMERMAN ACTED IN SELF DEFENSE, HE'S IN JAIL BECAUSE OF PRESSURE FROM BLACKS AND OTHERS.

      May 31, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Georgia Girl

    Reading the comments from the girlfriend and mother are outrageous, he chewed a homeless mans face right off. She'll want to sue Miami police for doing their job too is even more demented...we can't have people walking around eating each other. She needs to put the shoe on the other foot so to speak and realize what her son did was absolutely wrong and in no way is there an excuse for this

    May 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bob A

    He obviously was a vegetarian. LOL

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

      I'm thinking he was a meat eatin' zombie...

      May 31, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. lanie

    He was hungry! His momma shoulda fed him. Damn zombies!

    May 31, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jennifer

    I never trust ANYONE that carries a Bible around.... seriously. How many people who molest children were supposedly 'close to god'. I swear, it's the religious ones you gotta watch out for.

    May 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba™

      "I swear, it's the religious ones you gotta watch out for." Actually, it's the ones who just ACT religious that you have to watch out for. Actual believers hardly ever eat your face.

      June 1, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jason

    I have to admit, when you take bath salts or any other drug that alters your mind so much you start to eat the face of another human, if you get shot, you had it coming.

    May 31, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ready

    “He loved God. He always read the Bible. "

    Why does every black person always say this when their children commit a heinous crime?

    May 31, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • shri

      why in the world are white people making it out to be a racist thing? Nowhere it mentions that mother accused police of racism.. Theguy was chmping on someone's face and did deserve to be tasered or shot...

      May 31, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dakota2000

      maybe the bible's the problem. Lots of gruesome stuff in it. If you a wacko, it could really mess you up.

      May 31, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. jimzcarz

    O.k. But what about the poor guy that guy chewed up.How long does he have before he turns..and is someone watching him??

    May 31, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. THETRUTH71

    WHEN IS THE MARCH FOR THIS UNARMED BLACK GUY SOMEONE CALL AL AND JESSIE NOW

    May 31, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
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