On Friday, white former Philly police officer Eric Ruch was charged with fatally shooting 25-year-old Dennis Plowden. The shooting happened after Plowden was pulled over by Ruch, but then fled the scene. After a brief pursuit, Plowden crashed into a pole and surrendered. No more than six to eight seconds later, Ruch shot him.
According to prosecutors, Plowden was holding his empty left hand in front of his face when Ruch fired at him. Fox News reports that three other officers were there at the scene and did not fire their weapons, according to a grand jury presentment. A grand jury said Ruch shot Plowden for no reason and that 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 was terminated following the shooting, and he turned himself in Friday on charges including first-degree murder, third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and possession of an instrument of crime.
District Attorney Larry Krasner presented the grand jury case and released findings, according to Bossip. “According to the presentment, Eric Ruch killed Dennis Plowden while on duty by firing his gun directly at Plowden’s head, as Plowden sat on the ground with his left, empty hand raised and clearly visible,” Krasner said.
The police union’s lawyers plan on defending 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.”
On Plowden’s side is the attorney for Plowden’s widow, Tania Bond, who called the charges “long overdue” and “an important step in the struggle for racial and social justice in this city.” Bond has filed a lawsuit against Ruch, the three other officers and the city.
No details about why the police were following Plowden have been released. According to the grand jury, Ruch and his partner started following Plowden and eventually asked police dispatch to check the registration of Plowden’s car. Fox News reports that Ruch told investigators after the shooting that they stopped Plowden’s Hyundai because a patrol alert allegedly connected it to a homicide. The thing is: other police officers said they never heard the patrol alert that Ruch is talking about. In addition, all the information Ruch was looking into from police dispatch was already contained in the alert, the grand jury said.