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. FineYoung Cannibal

    His mom is nuts. A few years back he beat her up and threatened to kill her, and the cops had to taser him three times to subdue him. And now she's saying what a good kid he was and how they didn't need to shoot him?

    May 31, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. chelle52370

    With all due respect, ma'am – HE WAS CHEWING A MAN'S FACE OFF!!!!! And when the officer approached him and tried to engage him, he growled and went right back to eating the man's face. I don't think that's a tase-able offense. He may have been a great kid, but he was violent and high as a kite and his victim now has less than 1/4 of his face left.

    May 31, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. chelle52370

    So Trayvon had no right to defend himself against a man who was stalking him with a gun??? He's the only person in that scenario that was actually standing his ground. If someone comes at you with a gun and you have no weapon, you're just going to stand there and let him shoot you and not try to defend yourself? I think not.

    May 31, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Nate

    I think cops can be overzealous at times but this is not one of them. Anyone who would eat another persons face should be shot on the spot. I know if I was a cop I wouldn't risk letting the guy get close and take a chunk out of me. There is no guarantee that a taser or other nonlethal means would be effective when a person is that hopped up on drugs.

    May 31, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jim1972

    Bible in hand. Girlfriend is full of something. She might need psch help as well. Or be looked into by F.B.I.

    May 31, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Nik

    I don't know what she (mom) believes but the description is very bizarre and animal like behavior. The family should just not even comment because his actions were not justified. Cops put their life on the lines everyday and if I were a cop and came across this situation I think I would have shot him too. Sad situation but reality. Sounds like he already was violent and definitely drugs were involved in this case. This happened in Maryland too recently. I hope I'm not out and about and someone attacks me like this– very scary!

    May 31, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Capt. Zeb

      Do you know the first cop on the scene had to turn and walk away, puck his guts up before returning and firing?

      May 31, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. A Better Person

    What if this was a story where the victim was a black male who was targeted by a white male? We'd be hearing more commentary about the race angle than the actual crime itself.

    May 31, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Juanmom

      No you are most definitely NOT a better person, you are a racist idiot. This horrific story is about a MAN eating another MAN'S face off and you just had to interject race into it. I wouldn't care if they were pink or blue, a human being, either under the influence of something, severly mentally ill, or a zombie of some kind ATE another human being! But to your racist little pea brain the most important thing about this story is the lack of race being mentioned, really??? Grow up and while you're at it try to evolve!!

      May 31, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BK

    I guess even the most insane and evil people love their mothers; mom's are a very poor source of information on what kind of person someone is.
    Also he took his BIble everywhere with him? That makes me think he was more insane, not less. He probably heard voices in his head that told him to eat the man's face and thought it was 'God'.

    May 31, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. holy bologna

    Yea he sound like a real genuine guy there mom. If you loved him so much you shouldve given him a toe or nip to chew on..

    May 31, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mommakindadumb

    That ugly zombie dude has some serious sized lips for eatin' flesh.

    May 31, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • HateDoubleStandards

      Well I hate to say it but the lip size is typical.... anyway... I'm glad they shot the guy, mental case or not, he doesn't need to be on this planet. Don't tribes in Africa do this?

      May 31, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Nolamom

    No one wants to think that their loved one is capable of such a horrible act. The real question is "what happened to this man that he behaved this way?" Was he drugged? Was he ill? Of course he wasn't a zombie ... but something was definitely wrong with him. It's a shame he was shot by police and perhaps they could have tasered him but honestly can you blame them for not being freaked and scared by what they saw ... I think perhaps that is why they shot him ... I mean who wants to risk being attacked like that themselves. I'm so sorry that this woman's son died and my condolences to her. Now we need answers as to what would make a supposedly really nice guy who believed in god behave so primal as to act like an animal and tear into another person's flesh ....

    May 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. NYC

    Where was this zombie's Bible when he was chewing off the man's face? If the roles were reversed, I am sure the family's reaction would be different.

    May 31, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Seriously AVG

    I have known good people who have done very bad things for reasons no one who new them could understand. I'm not talking just those who loved them the most but everyone they knew. For most of us that's a good cross section of our community.Genuinely good people with something broken inside that allows them to cross a line we would never dream of crossing. This guy committed a horrible crime but he was not in control of himself. He may very well have been a quite ordinary and nice guy who was just broken enough to do drugs. I myself had joked about "Zombies" and after hearing from his mother feel a little disappointed in myself.So far as the police officer shooting him, how terrifying would it be even to a seasoned professional to come across that scene. His training would have gone into auto pilot and if that guy was on drugs an feeling no pain a taser would not have phased him. I just think your crazy if you think it can't happen to you or that your life can't change in a heartbeat. One action can show the best we are capable of or the worst. I don't think this was the worst of us this week, I think it was that kitten killing freak was even worse and he's still running around among is.

    May 31, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mommakindadumb

    Isn't there an "app" for this type of activity?

    May 31, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. across12

    We should ask Hannibal what exactly happened to this guy, I'm sure he knows.

    May 31, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
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