Speaking publicly for the first time, the MacArthur attacker's girlfriend told reporters Wednesday there were no warning signs to her boyfriend's cannibalistic attack on a homeless man.
In a prepared statement, 27-year-old Yovonka Bryant, who claims she was dating Rudy Eugene, the man shot dead after he chewed out most of a homeless man's face, said she wanted to describe the Eugene she knew, not justify his actions.
"I love Rudy Eugene," Bryant said. "I felt safe with Rudy." She described Eugene, 31, as a family man and a religious person. Bryant said they never discussed voodoo or cannibalism and that her boyfriend was likely drugged without his knowledge.
"The time Rudy and I spent together, we took my kids out to the park, we dined in restaurants, we had family game and movie night at one of my relatives’ house, we often engaged in debates over what God really meant to people, and who was the biggest Miami Heat fan," Bryant said.
High-profile attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing Bryant, said she was hired in order expose the truth about who Rudy Eugene was.
"This is a high-profile case, she wanted to have the truth come out about her relationship with Rudy Eugene, and to have people understand who he was from her point of view, from her knowledge, from her experience. And that is why I'm here, to help her to have a voice and to help her tell what her relationship was and was not since Rudy Eugene can't speak for himself," Allred said at a news conference.
Allred defended publicity claims by the media and maintained she was hired to clarify the confusion surrounding Eugene and his girlfriend.
The lawyer stated that Bryant, a single mother of three, had been dating Eugene since March. She said her client had not spoken to any member of the media and was not the woman interviewed by The Miami Herald that blamed the incident on voodoo.
Bryant said Eugene never drank alcohol or did drugs around her. She said he only saw him smoke a marijuana cigarette one time.
Allred said Bryant, who lives in Miramar and is a billing specialist for a certified public accountant, read the Bible with Eugene and had communicated with him by text message the day before his death.
She would not disclose the content of the texts.
The attorney did not let Bryant directly answer any questions at the news conference.
Eugene, 31, was shot and killed by police over Memorial Day weekend after he mauled off more than 80 percent of another man’s face, authorities said.
Several passersby saw the gruesome attack that left 65-year-old Ronald Poppo critically injured in the hospital. On Tuesday, yet another batch of 911 calls were released by police, describing Eugene moments before he pounced on his victim.
“There’s a tall African-American man completely naked on one of the lightbulbs acting like Tarzan and all his clothes are on the highway,” one caller tells a 911 dispatcher at 1:54 p.m. on May 26.
In another call, made around the same time, a witness says there is a man standing “naked as a jaybird” in the street.
According to recordings police released last week, a bus driver who passed by the scene told a 911 operator how Eugene was beating Poppo to a pulp at 2:04 p.m. on May 26.
“Listen, there is a naked man on the MacArthur Causeway at the end of the causeway coming towards Biscayne Boulevard. He is beating another man to a pulp – like on top of the man, beating him, the man is bleeding,” said the bus driver.
She added that the man on top would likely kill the other man.
The nearly 20-minute attack was captured on the Miami Herald’s security cameras and shows the officer who shot Eugene pull up at about 2:11 p.m.
Though Miami Police have not said when the first officer was dispatched to the scene, spokesman William Moreno told the Herald the response time was “very average.”
A Florida Highway Patrol spokesman told the newspaper the first Miami Police officer was dispatched at 2:06 p.m., at the same time as a FHP trooper.