Ex-Philadelphia cop charged in fatal shooting of Black man nearly three years ago

This undated photo provided by Philadelphia Police Department shows former Philadelphia police Officer Eric Ruch. Ruch was charged with first-degree murder Friday, Oct. 9, 2020 in the 2017 shooting of a Black man after a high-speed car chase.(Philadelphia Police Department via AP)

By MICHAEL RUBINKAM Associated Press (10/09)

A white former Philadelphia police officer was charged Friday with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a Black man after a high-speed car chase nearly three years ago.

Former Officer Eric Ruch Jr. shot and killed Dennis Plowden Jr., 25, only seconds after Plowden crashed his car at 77 mph (125 kph), stumbled out of it and fell to the ground, authorities said.

Plowden, dazed and unarmed, was holding his empty left hand in front of his face when Ruch fired the fatal shot, prosecutors said. Four other officers who were on the scene and had taken cover did not fire their weapons, according to a grand jury presentment.

The grand jury said Ruch shot Plowden in the head without justification as Plowden looked “dazed and lost on the sidewalk.”

“Ruch intentionally fired on Dennis Plowden less than 20 seconds after the Hyundai he had been driving crashed at nearly 80 miles an hour, Mr. Plowden had fallen to the ground, and yet was still attempting to obey commands,” the grand jury wrote.

Ruch, who was fired about 10 months after the shooting, turned himself in Friday to face charges of first-degree murder, third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and possession of an instrument of crime. Prosecutors expected him to be held without bail.

The police union said its lawyers will defend the former officer.

“We will represent former police officer Eric Ruch Jr. against these serious charges. Our attorneys will review the allegations and appropriately defend this officer,” said John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5. “Officer Ruch Jr. is entitled to due process, and we believe the judicial system will protect his rights to a fair trial.”

Paul Hetznecker, who represents Plowden’s wife, Tania Bond, called the charges “long overdue” and “an important step in the struggle for racial and social justice in this city.” Bond is suing Ruch, three other officers and the city.

It remained unclear why police sought to stop Plowden’s car in the first place. According to the grand jury, Ruch and his partner began following Plowden and asked police dispatch to check the registration of his car.

Ruch’s partner told investigators after the shooting that they had stopped Plowden’s Hyundai because of a patrol alert that connected it to a homicide, according to the grand jury.

But other officers said they were unaware of the patrol alert — which had not been broadcast over police radio — and all the information sought by Ruch from police dispatch was already contained in the alert, the grand jury said.

“There’s no information on the police radio before the incident that indicates that anyone knew for sure that this vehicle may have been involved in a homicide,” Assistant District Attorney Vincent Corrigan said at a news conference Friday. That homicide investigation remains open, he said, but the Hyundai is no longer an “avenue of inquiry.”

The grand jury said three of the four officers present for the shooting testified they did not see Plowden raise his left hand, while the fourth said he didn’t recall what Plowden was doing with it.

Other eyewitnesses said Plowden was on his back and struggling to sit up when he was shot, with one saying Plowden was gesturing with his left hand in front of his face.

The lawsuit filed by Plowden’s wife said he was propping himself up with his right arm while holding out his left hand in a vain attempt to prevent Ruch from shooting him. A medical examiner said the bullet tore through the fingers of Plowden’s left hand before hitting him in the head, indicating the hand was raised, according to the grand jury.

Officers also said they saw Plowden’s right hand in his pocket, with one saying “it looked like he had a gun in there,” the grand jury said. The other eyewitnesses did not mention Plowden’s right hand.

Ruch fired the fatal shot just 6 to 8 seconds after getting to the crash scene, the grand jury said.

Hetznecker, the lawyer for Plowden’s wife, said that police had no probable cause to stop the car, and that officers’ statements were an attempt to justify the fatal shooting.

“I’m glad to see the grand jurors saw through that,” he said.

Plowden was taking classes to get his high school diploma and was learning the construction trade at the time of his killing. He left behind two children and three stepchildren, including an infant son who is now 3.

“I am happy that Ruch was charged with the murder of Dennis,” Plowden’s wife, Tania Bond, said Friday in a phone interview, but “this is only the beginning. There are so many more milestones before we reach the end.”

She said she wants to know “whether Ruch has any remorse and anything to say to us. I just want to know, has Ruch ever thought about my family?”

https://apnews.com/article/shootings-police-archive-philadelphia-e4c91a4b2419bf943815275caa69b362

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

Posted in: Indictments, Police, Protests/Civil Unrest, Racial Issues, Shootings, Use of Deadly Force

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

fourteen − seven =

Terms of Use for Posting Comments

Terms of Use

This site (the “Site”) is operated and maintained by Law Enforcement Education Foundation, Corporation (“Company”). Throughout the Site, the terms “we”, “us” and “our” refer to Company.  The words “user,” “you” and “your” as used herein refer to you.

Please read these terms and conditions of use (“Terms of Use”) carefully before contributing content. If you do not agree to these Terms of Use, please do not contribute content. Your use of the Site is subject to the Terms and Conditions found here .

By contributing content to the Site, you represent and warrant that you are at least eighteen (18) years old and that you have read and understand these Terms of Use and any amendments thereto and agree to be bound by them. If you are not at least eighteen (18) years old or you do not agree and accept these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from contributing content.

From time to time, we may permit users to submit content to the Site.  You hereby acknowledge and agree that by submitting remarks, comments, suggestions, ideas, graphics, feedback, edits, concepts, comments, photographs, illustrations and other materials (other than personal information and/or registration information) through the Site (individually and collectively, “Submissions”), you (i) grant us a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable and fully sub-licensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, translate, distribute, publish, create derivative works from and publicly display and perform such Submissions throughout the world in any media, now known or hereafter created, without attribution to you; (ii) grant us the right to pursue at law any person or entity that violates your and/or our rights in your Submissions; and (iii) forever waive any and all of your rights, including but not limited to moral rights, if any, in and to your Submissions, including, without limitation, any all rights or requirements of attribution or identification of you as the author of the Submission or any derivative thereof.  We reserve the right to remove any of your Submissions from the Site, in whole or in part, without notice to you, for any reason or no reason.

Submissions are made voluntarily. Any submissions which include personally identifiable information are subject to our Privacy Policy found here .  You may not upload or otherwise publish content on the Site that (i) is confidential to you or any third party; (ii) is untrue, inaccurate, false or other than an original work of your authorship; (iii) that relates to or impersonates any other person; (iv) violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity; (v) contains any content, personally identifiable information or other information, or materials of any kind that relate or refer to any other person or entity other than the provider of the products, goods or services to which the Submission relates; or (vi) violates any law, or in any manner infringes or interferes with the rights of others, including but not limited to the use of names, information, or materials that (A) libel, defame, or invade the privacy of any third party, (B) are obscene or pornographic, (C) are harmful, threatening, offensive, abusive, harassing, vulgar, false or inaccurate, racially, sexually, ethnically or are otherwise objectionable or otherwise contrary to the laws of any place where such Submissions may be accessed; (D) constitute personal attacks on other individuals; (E) promote criminal, immoral or illegal activity; (F) promote or advertise any person, product or service or solicit funds; or (G) are deemed confidential by any contract or policy.

You are solely responsible for any Submissions you make and their accuracy. We take no responsibility and assume no liability for any Submissions posted by you or any third party.

Unless approved by us in writing in advance, you agree not to: (i) provide or create a link to the Site; or (ii) create any frames at any other sites pertaining to any of the content located on the Site.

We reserve the right, in our discretion, to update, change or replace any part of these Terms of Use for Posting Comments by posting updates and/or changes to our Site.  It is your responsibility to check this page periodically for changes.  Your continued use of, and/or access to the Site, following the posting of any changes to these Terms of Use for Posting Comments, constitutes your acceptance of those changes.