(AP/ABC News) The Miami man who had half his face chewed off by a deranged assailant told police that moments before the grisly assault began the man said to him, “You, me, buddy, and nobody else here. I’m going to kill you.”
Rudy Eugene’s assault on Ronald Poppo actually happened on a busy Miami street on May 26 and Eugene had to be shot several times by a police officer to stop the gruesome attack. Eugene was naked and responded to the initial shot by growling at the cop.
Two months after the horrific incident and after several surgeries, Poppo, 65, is now in a long term care facility in the Miami area where he is continuing to recover from his injuries. His doctors say he lost 50 percent of his face, making him almost unrecognizable. His left eye was destroyed. His right eye is still there, but doctors covered it with a flap taken from skin from his forehead and scalp.
In the taped interviews that were conducted on July 19 with two Miami homicide detectives they asked what assailant Rudy Eugene, who was shot and killed by police during the attack, said to Poppo.
“For a very short amount of time I thought he was a good guy,” Poppo calmly told police in the audio recordings. “But he just went and turned berserk….He just ripped me to ribbons. He chewed up my face. He plucked out my eyes…Basically that’s all there is to say about it.”
In the seconds before Eugene began to mutilate him, Poppo recalled that Eugene’s conversation turned ominous.
“You, me, buddy and nobody else here,” Poppo recalled. “I’m going to kill you. Or something like that, I guess.”
“Did he say why?” Detective Sgt. Altarr Williams asked.
“No, he just started to scream,” Poppo said. “And was talking kind of funny talk for a while too… He must have been souped up on something.”
Although Poppo sounded calm through the interview, he recounted very vivid and gruesome moments during the attack.
“He mashed my face into the sidewalk,” he said. “My eyes, my eyes got plucked out. He was strangling me in wrestling holds at the same time he was plucking my eyes out.”
According to CBS Miami in another interview Poppo told detectives that Rudy Eugene blamed him for stealing his Bible although he said he never saw him with a Bible.
Poppo told police he had never met Eugene before the attack and that he did nothing to provoke the attack.
“I just didn’t know how to get away from the guy,” Poppo said.
“I thank the Miami Police Department for saving my life…If they didn’t get there in a nick of time I would’ve definitely be in worse shape. Possibly I’ll be DOA [dead on arrival].”
Eugene was shot and killed by police after they say their repeated pleas to get him to stop attacking Poppo were met with growls. Surveillance video shows that for 18 agonizing minutes Poppo was disrobed from the waist down, kicked, punched and bitten before police shot Eugene four times.
Poppo, who once attended New York City’s elite Stuyvesant High School and dreamed of becoming president, will need months of reconstructive surgery. A foundation set up in his name has raised thousands of dollars.