PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A former Philadelphia police officer has been charged with murder in the shooting death of a Black man in 2017. Former officer Eric Ruch Jr. shot 25-year-old Dennis Plowden after a car chase in East Germantown.
It happened around 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 27, 2017, at 19th and Nedro Streets in East Germantown. Investigators say two plainclothes officers attempted to pull over a car a few blocks away that matched the description of a suspect’s vehicle in a homicide about a week earlier.
Authorities say Ruch requested the tags on Plowden’s car, but there were no violations reported. During the stop, Plowden struck one of the officers with the car and sped off, authorities say.
Plowden crashed into several cars while fleeing from police. Police say Plowden got out of the car stumbling and fell onto the curb. When officers approached him, he had one hand behind his back.
After several commands to show his hand, police say Ruch opened fire and the bullet went through Plowden’s hand and into his head. Plowden was unarmed.
“Within six to eight seconds of arriving on the scene, former Officer Ruch shot Plowden once, the bullet passing through his raised left hand, wounding three fingers and traveling directly into his head,” District Attorney Larry Krasner said. “It was indisputable that Plowden did not have a gun or any other weapon that night. Indisputable.
“We are trying to be fair,” Krasner added, “and that is the only way that we’re going to succeed in restoring the relationship between communities that are sometimes distrustful of law enforcement and the law enforcement, including this office, that’s supposed to serve them.”
Eyewitness News spoke with Tania Plowden, Plowden’s wife, shortly after the murder charges were announced.
Their son was 6 months old when the shooting took place. She still can’t find closure at this moment.
“I felt overwhelmed, but at the same time, I felt progress had really been made,” she said. “It can’t bring me closure because I can’t get my husband back. My son was robbed of a life to know his father. At 6 months old, he doesn’t have a memory of his dad.”
The officer who was hit by the car was treated and released from a local hospital.
The Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police says it will be representing Ruch.
“Our attorneys will review the allegations and appropriately defend this officer,” union president John McNesby said in a statement. “Officer Ruch Jr. is entitled to due process and we believe the judicial system will protect his rights to a fair trial.”
CBS3’s Natasha Brown contributed to this report.