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. JerseyJeff

    Ms. Eugene,
    I am sorry your sons life ended the way it did, but I think it's pretty accepted use of force, especially given the state that your son was found in by the police.
    Good mom's love their kids, but Ms. Eugene, this is inexcusable behavior. I am sorry you didn't know about your sons drug problem, but when it goes down to the point where he was eating a live human, I think he is in a better place now and I would keep in mind the victim and what his life will be like now since he met your son on a Miami street.
    Deepest Sympathies,
    Normal American

    June 1, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  2. Steven

    This guy was possessed, and it sounds like he knew it. clearly possessed.

    June 1, 2012 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. ObamaUntil2016

    Why, after seeing the headline, am I thinking of Christine O'Donnell saying, "I am not a witch".

    June 1, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  4. Macky

    White cops shot a black man, where is Al and the gang? If George Zimmerman had been on the street in the area this would be a different story.

    Obama: If I had a son, he'd look like Rudy

    June 1, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  5. Bibi5

    Well, of course his mother is going to stick up for him–especially IF past behavior has shown no indication of this guy being a crazed zombie. However, IF it turns out that he was high on something, then he apparently was not smart enough to know better than to put a mind altering substance into his body. And, I may be wrong, but if the police tasered him, wouldn't it have traveled to the victim as well?

    June 1, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  6. JOH

    Of course he's not a zombie. Zombies are dead, stupid mom. And just because a person is a good son to their parents does not make them a good person. A person can be a GREAT mom, but a terrible terrible person. Look at it this way. In general terms, a lot of white people I know are disrespectful to their family and cursing at them. The black people I met in the ghettos loved their families and treated them well all the time... yet they got involved in gangs. World isn't black and white. Sorry for your loss though but if you trip on a drug enough to eat a friend's face off, you deserve it. People yell "YOLO" like idiots and attempt OD every night they party. That's stupid. Consider taking it with moderation and maybe he wouldn't be in this situation.

    June 1, 2012 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  7. Chris

    Carrying a bible doesn't make him a saint or for that matter... any less of a zombie. He used his mouth was as a deadly weapon. The fact that he didn't stop after being shot the first time shows just how dangerous he was. There's no doubt he committed a crime worthy of being killed on the spot.

    June 1, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. willy

    floyd, you appear to have an obsession with Christians.

    June 1, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  9. anchorite

    Not sure, lady. If they shot him once and he didn't go down, tasering most certainly wouldn't have had any effect. The rest of you racist trolls, why don't you go comment on the guy in Seattle about how it's just like Trayvon and all gun toting white people deserve to be let off the hook?

    June 1, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  10. tp1776

    the bit about the 'nice Mother's Day card' was the best part of this story. The police are rightfully deaf to comments like "oh [whomever] would never do such a thing" or "I can't believe [whomever] could do that" or "[whomever] was always such a friendly happy person" etc etc etc

    June 1, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  11. Courtney

    "they could have tased him" he was EATING HIS FACE. Try telling that to the poor homeless man who was left with only his goatee!!

    June 1, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  12. Bobington

    Mmmmmm fresh face....delicious

    June 1, 2012 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  13. ZombieFaceChewer

    Flesh good. Taser bad.

    June 1, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  14. soso

    RIght. People who read the bible are never crazy.

    June 1, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jack

    There hae been other reports of people on bath salts being tazed with no effect.

    June 1, 2012 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Patrish

      Yup, head that too.

      June 1, 2012 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • I AM CITIZEN

      What reports where?

      June 1, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
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