Ex-Philadelphia police officer Eric Ruch Jr. was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter on Tuesday for the 2017 shooting death of an unarmed Black motorist. Murder charges against Ruch for the death of Dennis Plowden Jr. went to trial on Tuesday, as previously reported by Face2Face Africa.
According to local news outlet NBC Philadelphia, the former officer’s trial is the first police murder trial for a civilian killing in Philadelphia’s history. Finally, the jury found Ruch guilty of possessing a weapon of crime even though he was acquitted of the lesser charge of third-degree murder. The judge revoked the ex-bail cop’s and he was taken into custody after the verdict. On November 17, he will be sentenced.
According to The Associated Press, after a high-speed chase, Ruch fatally shot Dennis Plowden. On the first day of his trial, however, the man’s attorney testified that his client had become distraught after learning that the man he had shot was unarmed.
It has been alleged by prosecutors that Ruch fired at Plowden, 25, mere seconds after the latter’s arrival on the scene, while the other responding officers refrained from doing the same. In the midst of a high-speed chase with police, the Black man who later died crashed his vehicle. An investigation by a grand jury into the crash also confirmed that he had raised his left hand in an attempt to comply with commands. Plowden was dazed, the jury concluded.
David Mischak, Ruch’s attorney, countered that Plowden had hidden his right hand in his pocket and was therefore not guilty. My client was upset when he learned it was heroin and not a gun. “He was devastated,” Mischak told the court.
Mischak urged the jury to consider the circumstances surrounding the shooting death. The police suspected Plowden’s vehicle was involved in a recent murder. Plowden was later proven to have only borrowed the car and had no involvement in the original case.
According to The Associated Press, Ruch is not the only Philadelphia police officer to face murder charges related to their official duties.
Plowden’s wife, Tania Bond, testified before a court last Tuesday. She claimed her husband had passed away from his wounds the following day at a hospital. The city settled the wrongful death lawsuit she filed against it last year, according to a report in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Ruch had been a cop for a decade. However, numerous complaints were lodged against him throughout his employment. Since internal affairs found he did not commit any wrongdoing in most complaints, Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Barbara McDermott reportedly barred them from telling jurors about the complaints during a pretrial hearing.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the maximum sentence for Ruch is 25 years in prison. If he qualifies for a sentence reduction under the advisory sentencing guidelines, he may only serve about five years in prison.