DA withdraws first-degree murder charge against former Philadelphia officer in deadly 2017 shooting

Eric Ruch Jr. (Philadelphia Police Department)

A first-degree murder charge filed against a former Philadelphia police officer in a deadly shooting has been dropped, according to court documents.

Former officer Eric Ruch Jr. still faces a number of charges, including third-degree murder in the Dec. 2017 shooting death of Dennis Plowden in 2017. 

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner had first announced the charges in Plowden's death in October.

On the night of the incident, police say plainclothes officers in an unmarked vehicle observed a white sedan that police have said was wanted in connection with a homicide. The officers requested marked patrol units respond to assist in stopping the car, which was occupied by Plowden, and a 27-year-old woman.

Police followed the vehicle to 16th Street and Nedro Avenue, where they say Plowden brought the vehicle to a stop.

As officers exited their vehicles to approach Plowden's vehicle, investigators say Plowden drove off at a high rate of speed, later crashing into two parked cars.

Dennis Plowden succumbed to his injuries after he was shot in the Dec. 2017 incident.

After the crash, police say Plowden attempted to flee on foot, and was pursued by officers, who drew their firearms and gave commands for Plowden to show his hands.

At that time, police say Plowden put his hand in his jacket pocket and Officer Ruch discharged single round, striking Plowden in the head.

Preliminary investigations indicated Plowden was seated on the sidewalk when the shot was fired.

Plowden was taken to Albert Einstein Medical Center but later succumbed to his injuries.

Officer Ruch, a nine-year-veteran of the force at the time of the incident, was dismissed from the force in the fall of 2018.

At the time of his suspension with intent to dismiss, then-Police Commissioner Richard Ross state that the crash and airbag deployment warranted "the conclusion that Plowden was likely dazed and disoriented, particularly because he was seated on the curb."

Ross said Ruch could have taken cover, as three other officers who did not fire their weapons did. Ross added that Plowden also "exercised poor judgment in fleeing."

Back in October, the District Attorney's office indicated that the plainclothes officers called in a registration check on a "mover," which is police slang for any moving vehicle. They say there was no information from police radio, before the incident, that indicated that anyone knew for sure that the vehicle may have been involved in a homicide. 

Ruch Jr. also remains charged with involuntary manslaughter and possession of an instrument of crime.



Former Philadelphia officer charged in fatal 2017 shooting of unarmed man


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