The Justice Wire
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The Justice Wire

District Attorney Krasner Announces Murder Charges for Police Shooting of Unarmed Man

Grand Jury Recommends Prosecution of Former Philadelphia Police Officer Eric Ruch, Jr., for Fatal Shooting of Dennis Plowden in 2017

PHILADELPHIA (Oct. 9, 2020) District Attorney Larry Krasner issued the following statement regarding the filing of Murder and related charges against former Philadelphia Police Officer Eric Ruch, Jr.:

“The 30th Philadelphia County Investigating Grand Jury has issued a presentment in which they conclude former Police Officer Eric Ruch shot and killed Dennis Plowden, an unarmed civilian, in the head without justification on December 27, 2017. They have asked the District Attorney to institute charges against Ruch based on their findings, and this morning Ruch turned himself in to Philadelphia Police.

“At present, Eric Ruch remains innocent unless or until proven guilty in a court of law.

“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. According to evidence presented to the Grand Jury, Plowden ‘looked dazed and lost on the sidewalk,’ having just stumbled from his car following a high-speed crash, and appeared to be trying to obey commands given by police officers at the scene.

“According to the presentment, the sequence of events leading up to the fatal shooting of Plowden spanned less than two minutes and nineteen seconds, following Ruch’s radio call from an unmarked police car asking to run a tag on a ‘mover.’ The tag on the white Hyundai Plowden was driving was ‘good’ until July 2018, according to police dispatch. After pulling over briefly, Plowden drove off, striking the open door of a second unmarked police car. The two unmarked cars along with two marked police vehicles pursued Plowden at high speed until he struck three parked cars, spun around, and finally stopped after striking a pole.

“According to the presentment, both of the Hyundai’s airbags deployed, and Plowden, the driver of the vehicle, appeared to trip before falling to the ground. A ‘loud and chaotic’ scene ensued, marked by car alarms and officers who had been in pursuit yelling commands such as, ‘Don’t move,’ and ‘Show your hands.’

“Within six to eight seconds of arriving to the scene, Ruch shot Plowden once, the bullet passing through his raised left hand, wounding three fingers, and into his head. Plowden was pronounced deceased the following day.

“The four other officers who arrived at the crash scene before the shooting took defensive positions, in an around the Hyundai and the two unmarked police cars, and did not fire their weapons.

“Plowden did not have a gun or any other weapon that night. A person identified as ‘Witness 1’ in the presentment testified that they had known Plowden for twenty years, and had never known Plowden to carry a gun.

“The charges recommended by the 30th Philadelphia County Investigating Grand Jury are: Murder of the First Degree, Murder of the Third Degree, Voluntary Manslaughter, and Possession of an Instrument of Crime. Former Officer Ruch was arrested by Philadelphia Police this morning, and he will be held without bail, just like every defendant who is charged with First Degree Murder in Philadelphia County.

“We will not comment further on this case, which remains an open criminal investigation, ahead of trial. Philadelphians should always feel safe reporting crime to law enforcement. The District Attorney’s Office Special Investigations Unit hotline, 215–686–9608, is available for members of the public who wish to report crime directly to my office.”

Video of today’s press conference is available on the DAO Facebook page.

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The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is the largest prosecutor’s office in Pennsylvania, and one of the largest in the nation. It serves the more than 1.5 million citizens of the City and County of Philadelphia, employing 600 lawyers, detectives, and support staff. The District Attorney’s Office is responsible for prosecution of approximately 40,000 criminal cases annually.

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