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. Johan S

    Pretty sure he was out of Taser range, you'd have to be crazy to get within Taser range of a maniac like that.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:08 am | Report abuse |
  2. PrpleLghtnin


    Simply because you are homeless does not mean your family memebers do not care. But in the case that you are correct, then copy the first part of my statement which was "I would really love his mother to tell the victim..." You took the whole comment of of context to make a point.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Johan S

      Funny how the girlfriend thinks someone did this to him. And she's right, that somebody is Eugene himself, and she assisted him. She could have helped him get off drugs, and he is the one who made the choice to do drugs. He has a criminal history .. he was lucky enough to have been caught by the system multiple times .. each of those should have been wake up calls. Maybe he didn't get proper advice in life, but that blame falls on his mother and his gf more than anyone else.

      June 1, 2012 at 4:17 am | Report abuse |
  3. PublicWatch

    had he not been killed would he have been charged with Defacing?

    June 1, 2012 at 4:13 am | Report abuse |
  4. Tim

    "My son was not a supernatural being". Wow, what shocking news! Anyway, if you viciously chew someone's face off in a violent fit and don't listen to what an officer of the law instructs you to do, then I don't feel any compassion for him being shot to death.

    June 1, 2012 at 4:32 am | Report abuse |
  5. warsteiner

    Sure lady, nice innocent boy who was just chewing off and eating the face of another human being, I would not go near that dude unless he was dead he growled at the cops with a mouth full of man flesh sorry I dont think you will fine the same support as Travons Mom lol

    June 1, 2012 at 5:03 am | Report abuse |
  6. sgraffwriter

    Zombie is too nice a word for what he was and what he did. Police did what they had to do. Tasers have been demonstrated to be ineffective a lot of the time for crazed drug users, and that's what this suspect was: a crazed drug user.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:04 am | Report abuse |
  7. Matt V

    Did the police officer remember to double-tap?

    June 1, 2012 at 5:38 am | Report abuse |

    Those bath salts are serious business . I work in emergency dispatch; the calls we receive that aren't OD's are severe psychotic breaks. We had two kids that died just the way they were standing, leaning against the balcony looking into the parking lot. Were like that night, dead as a door nail. And we had a guy that parked his cars, took off all of his clothes and pulled someones mailbox out of the ground and started attacking peoples front doors in the middle of the night. If you have kids there isn't a strong enough warning to give them about that drug.

    June 1, 2012 at 5:54 am | Report abuse |
  9. Everett Wallace

    no zombie. DEMON in the flesh!

    June 1, 2012 at 6:01 am | Report abuse |
  10. wompas

    Obviously he has been in trouble before or they wouldn't have a mugshot of him. Furthermore, just because he takes his bible everywhere doesn't mean he would never go nuts and kill someone. In fact I'd be willing to be it'd make him more susceptible to psychotic delusions if he so strongly believes that the fairy tales in the bible are real as his family claims.

    June 1, 2012 at 6:22 am | Report abuse |
    • NM_Man

      If he did take his bible everywhere that is a sign of being unhappy and searching for something. And in some cases "nuts". The comment about the bible made by the gf is "not" a positive thing.

      June 1, 2012 at 6:41 am | Report abuse |
    • akismet-e03c15469bb92cbfa9e8eb8434ad86ec

      Right on.

      June 1, 2012 at 7:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Allen

      I agree with everything you said about the Bbile, etc. but as far as a mug shot goes, this could possibly be his driver's license photo, which is readily available to law enforcement when they run your plates.

      June 1, 2012 at 7:07 am | Report abuse |
    • David

      Classy guy... use this story to further your anti-Christian agenda

      June 1, 2012 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Eric Swan

      The bible a fairy tale. I laugh at you for this because you do not know the truth or have never looked for it. In your world let me guess we all just happened to be here and were not created. So i would say look to Revelations 4:11 but that is a fairy tale to you.

      June 1, 2012 at 7:23 am | Report abuse |
  11. DarkPoetinc

    Oh I'm sorry, If I shoot someone and they look at me and growl with blood coming out of their mouth I'm emptying my clip or aiming for the head. I don't care if Zombies are fiction but if a bullet doesn't stop you to the body I'm going for the kill shot! I don't blame the police at all on this. Just another dumb mother trying to defend not bringing up her son right! Just like TM and GZ.

    June 1, 2012 at 6:23 am | Report abuse |
  12. John Holmes

    Brains. It's what's for dinner.

    June 1, 2012 at 6:33 am | Report abuse |
  13. John Holmes

    50% of the American population are Zombies. How else can you explain Obama getting any votes?

    June 1, 2012 at 6:34 am | Report abuse |
  14. Justin

    I always love stories about how a mother claims thier child was a good kid and how the police could have done something other than shoot thier poor baby. Well lady you are not a cop and don't walk in a cops shoes. They do what ever it takes to stop a threat and sometimes that means your baby is going to be shot. A person doesn't need to have a weapon to be shot, if someone elses life is in danger from serious bodily harm or death wheter it is a cop or a victims life that is grounds to use deadly force. I am sure your kid was a good kid at one point, every child usually starts out innocent.

    June 1, 2012 at 6:42 am | Report abuse |
  15. insightful

    Why would a camera be positioned in such a way to give a limited view of the street? The field of vision is peculiarly narrow.

    June 1, 2012 at 6:43 am | Report abuse |
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