The boy was angry at first, Melimon Charles said.
Eventually, he said, the boy accepted “the truth and we were doing fine.”
But signs of trouble began to crop up. When Eugene was 16, he was arrested for battery. The charges were later dropped, but it was the first of a string of arrests on charges ranging from trespassing to marijuana possession. In all, he was arrested seven times in five years, the last in 2009.
Graduation from North Miami High School in 2000 only left him more adrift. Ruth Charles had become a nursing assistant and she wanted Eugene to work in the healthcare industry, too.
“I would go after him to go to college, go to vocational school, learn something,” she said, but the conversations often ended in a fight. “I wanted him to be in healthcare because you can always get a job.’’
Instead Eugene was a wanderer, never quite settling down. He lived off and on with friends and his mother — she ordered him out of the house several times. He detailed cars at dealerships and worked as a forklift operator. He talked about becoming a small-business owner, wanting to open up a mobile car wash.
Three powerful jolts from a taser
In 2004, Eugene had another fight with his mother. This time, it escalated. Sweating profusely, he pushed her out of the kitchen, smashed a table and told her, “I’ll put a gun to your head and kill you,’’ according to police.
When North Miami Beach police arrived, he “balled his hands into a fist” and threatened several police officers. When one officer drew his Taser, Eugene responded, “What you gonna shock me,’’ and “I’ll kick your ass.” It took three Taser shots to subdue Eugene.
“Thank God you’re here, he would have killed me,” Charles told officers on the scene.
While Eugene was being transported to the station he told police, “Officer I’m sorry, I should have never acted like that. My mother just makes me upset because she always calls me a bum.’’
The battery charge was later dropped, but Eugene pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and was sentenced to probation
About six weeks before Eugene turned 24, he married Jenny Ductant, who he met while studying in high school. The marriage broke up after 18 months because she said he was violent, according to an interview on WPLG-ABC 10 in May.
In 2007, he met Rikkia Cross as they were both in their cars at a red light, made eye contact and he honked the horn at her. Drawn to his good looks, Cross gave Eugene her phone number, the beginning of a rocky but enduring five-year relationship.
Weeks after his death, Cross sat in the wood paneled living room of her parents’ modest home in Miami Gardens, the only place she says she feels safe, outside of media scrutiny. Crying, she slowly scrolled through her cellphone looking at pictures of Eugene, the most recent taken the day before he was killed.
Cross, a dispatcher at an air-conditioning company, talked softly about how they connected instantly, how after only five months, the couple moved into a two-bedroom apartment in Broward County. They spent time watching movies, riding go-karts and reading the Bible. She kept the pantry stocked with his favorite snack: Famous Amos cookies, chocolate chip and pecan.