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)

    He wasn't a zombie he was a MONSTER. Glad he's gone.

    May 31, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Puckles

    Why does the family keep saying "that wasn't him." It Was him, and he was evil.

    May 31, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Colin in Florida

    Pure and simple: Drugs. When are people going to learn

    May 31, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SensibleJoe

    Sorry, but when you take dangerous drugs that cause you to growl like an animal and engage in cannibalism, it doesn't matter how much you love your mother or read the Bible. Outward displays of family values and religion don't nix eating someone's face.

    May 31, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. rayn

    zombie: a hypnotized person bereft of consciousness and self-awareness, yet ambulant and able to respond to surrounding stimuli at the least. sounds like a zombie to me.

    May 31, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Roberta Flack

    The first time ever I gnawed your face...

    May 31, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. rayn

    you really should do research before you try to act like you know what you are talking about. they still dont know why he attacked him.

    May 31, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Suki

    I just think that if his drug use had been aknowledged when it began, all of the nice guy eulogies wouldn't be necessary now.

    May 31, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. chieatfetus

    sounds like he needed an exorcism

    Did you hear about the man in MD (Morgan State dropout) who killed his roommate, dismembered him and ate his heart and part of his brain? not kidding, look it up on wbaltv

    May 31, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. linelhuzz

    A black woman on the news claiming her murdering son/brother/cousin/baby daddy is actually a good boy, and the police were wrong for shooting him? They could devote an entire channel to that and have plenty of content, 24×7.

    May 31, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      what the hell does her being black have to do with it????

      May 31, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ogre12

    sorry mom but your son was a thug and he sold his soul to satan. It is a hard truth and I do not say this lightly but with true heart I am sorry for your loss. I pray the Lord resolve all things for you in your heart according to His will not your own.

    May 31, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Gary C.

    This guy took "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" literally.

    May 31, 2012 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. SeanD

    For all you nit wits and knuckleheads who think it's funny to joke about this brutal attack, go to google, click images, and put in zombie eating face. You'll see on the second row of pictures – the medical photo of what's left of the victims face. After you puke in your mouth, rethink your "hilarious" quips and comedy, and look at the reality of your stupidity. An innocent man was brutally mauled by another man. Stick to making jokes about butterflies and dishonest politicians.

    May 31, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cre

    Oh, so blacks have no morals? Obviously you're a troll but get over yourself. Comments like that aren't warranted and it doesn't matter the race of the people in this article.

    May 31, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. sallyB

    In Connecticut a women's pet chimpanzee attacked her friend and ate the womens face off, exactly as this man did.
    The behavour of the chimpanzee attack and this mans attack were identical.
    No, her son is not a 'zombie', but her son behaved exaclty as a chimpanzee would when it attacks.

    May 31, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
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