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, after Plowden crashed his car, stumbled out of it and fell to the ground, authorities said.
Prosecutors said a dazed Plowden, who was unarmed, was holding his empty left hand in front of his face when Ruch fired the fatal shot. Four other officers who were on the scene did not fire their weapons, according to a grand jury presentment.
Former Philadelphia police officer Eric Ruch Jr has been charged with murder in the 2017 shooting death of Black man Dennis Plowden [Philadelphia Police Department]“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.
Following an internal investigation of the shooting, Ruch, who had been an officer for 10 years, was terminated from the police force in October 2018. The criminal investigation took another two years to conclude, partially due to delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Ruch 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.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Ruch is the second former police officer to be charged by District Attorney Larry Krasner, who, shortly after being sworn into office in 2018, said that his predecessors were “biased” for failing to charge law enforcement officers in fatal shootings.
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 #5.
“Officer Ruch Jr is entitled to due process and we believe the judicial system will protect his rights to a fair trial.”