Friday, July 6, 2012

On second thought

Rudy Eugene was going to be the poster boy for the assault on bath salts. He was found in an incoherent state in Miami eating another man's face.

Bad stuff those bath salts. Ingesting the synthetic chemicals can cause paranoia, hallucinations and severe agitation. The use of bath salts has apparently reached an epidemic level in the Houston area. Just the other day police raided five smoke shops and arrested ten people for possession of bath salts.

A man from Manvel (between Houston and Galveston) died in police custody after ingesting bath salts. Well, maybe being pepper-sprayed in the face had something to do with that, too. And maybe he took bath salts - and maybe he didn't. The police were just relying on the word of his niece.

From an NPR piece on the Eugene case:
Armando Aguilar, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police says the similarity between the face-eating attack and some other recent incidents in Miami are striking, ABC News reports: 
 "The cases are similar minus a man eating another. People taking off their clothes. People suddenly have super human strength," Aguilar said, according to ABC. "They become violent and they are burning up from the inside. Their organs are reaching a level that most would die. By the time police approach them they are a walking dead person."
There is anecdotal evidence across the country of zombie-like people going on violent rampages after snorting bath salts.What there isn't, is scientific fact. What levels of the synthetic drugs found in bath salts cause a person to hallucinate? Which synthetic drug causes people to act like zombies? Are there other substances that could cause the same reaction? Did the supposed users have mental health issues in the first place?

Maybe there are blood tests from other parts of the country that confirm a person who acted violently had the synthetic drugs found in bath salts in his body. But those reports just give us a number. A number with no context.

And that brings us back to Mr. Eugene. His girlfriend didn't believe he was using bath salts. She thought someone had either drugged him or placed a curse on him. Hey, a little irrationality every now and then never hurt anyone, right?
"The man being depicted by the media as a 'face eater' or a 'monster' is not the man she knew, she said. He smoked marijuana often, though had recently said he wanted to quit, but he didn't use stronger recreational drugs and even refused to take over-the-counter medication for simple ailments like headaches, she said. He was sweet and well-mannered, she said. 
"Eugene's girlfriend has her own theory on what happened that day. She believes Eugene was drugged unknowingly. The only other explanation, she said, was supernatural — that someone put a Vodou curse on him. The girlfriend, who unlike Eugene is not Haitian, said she has never believed in Vodou, until now. 
" 'I don't know how else to explain this,' she said."
Oh, and did I forget to mention, extensive lab tests showed that there was nothing more than marijuana in Mr. Eugene's system at the time he was shot and killed by police.

Just gotta hate when that happens.

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