DA files motion to reconsider sentencing of former officer convicted for fatal 2017 shooting of unarmed man

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner called for harsher sentencing against a former police officer who was convicted of fatally shooting an unarmed man in 2017. 

Eric Rush was sentenced in November to 11 ½ to 23 months on voluntary manslaughter charges for shooting and killing Dennis Plowden Jr. in December 2017. 

"Yesterday, my office filed a motion respectfully requesting the Court of Common Pleas to reconsider its sentence of 11½ to 23 months incarceration for former Officer Eric Ruch," Krasner said. "This sentence is a gross downward departure from the mitigated range of the guidelines for Voluntary Manslaughter and an even greater downward departure from the standard range."

At a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Krasner told reporters the sentence falls far below the state's guidelines. He called the sentence ‘concerning’ and ‘troubling.’ 

On the night of the shooting, police say officers dressed in plainclothes in an unmarked vehicle noticed a white sedan authorities said was wanted in connection with a homicide. 

The officers requested marked patrol cars respond to assist them with stopping the car, which Plowden and a 27-year-old woman were sitting inside. 

Investigators say police followed the vehicle to 16th Street and Nedro Avenue, where they say Plowden stopped the car. According to authorities, as officers exited their vehicles to approach Plowden, he drove off at a high rate of speed, crashing into two parked cars. 

After the crash, police say Plowden attempted to flee on foot as he was being chased by officers who drew their firearms and gave commands for him to stop and show his hands. 

At that time, Plowden put his hand in his jacket pocket and Ruch fired a single round, shooting Plowden in the head, according to police. 

Plowden was taken to Albert Einstein Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries. 

Ruch was later suspended with intent to dismiss in 2018 and then-Police Commissioner Richard Ross said the crash and airbag deployment of the car Plowden was in warranted "the conclusion that Plowden was likely dazed and disoriented, particularly because he was seated on the curb." 

Ross said Plowden executed "poor judgment in fleeing" but noted Ruch could have taken cover, as three other officers on the scene did not fire their weapons. 

In September 2022, a jury convicted the former police officer of voluntary manslaughter, rejecting the more serious murder charge in the case. 

Ruch is the first officer convicted by a jury for an on-duty killing in recent city history.