What to Know
- Officer Eric Ruch Jr., was suspended with intent to dismiss, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross announced Wednesday.
- Ross said Ruch used poor tactics when he shot and killed Dennis Plowden in the Germantown section of the city last December.
- It’s unknown at this time whether the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office will pursue charges against Ruch, who is a 10-year veteran.
A Philadelphia police officer who shot and killed an unarmed man in the Germantown section of the city last year will be fired, Police Commissioner Richard Ross announced Wednesday.
Ross said Officer Eric Ruch Jr., 30, was not justified in using lethal force when he shot Dennis Plowden, 25, on the night of Dec. 27, 2017.
Investigators say Plowden was driving a 2013 Hyundai northbound on Ogontz Avenue shortly after 8:30 p.m. that night. A 27-year-old woman was sitting in the passenger seat.
Ruch, who was in an unmarked vehicle at the time, spotted the Hyundai, which was wanted in connection to a homicide, investigators said. Ruch then requested other units respond to the area to assist.
Ruch followed Plowden to the intersection of 16th Street and Nedro Avenue and stopped his vehicle. Three more officers then responded to the scene. As the officers approached the vehicle, Plowden allegedly accelerated, striking the passenger door of a police car and hitting an officer. He then continued down Nedro Avenue at a high speed, police said.
Officers momentarily lost sight of the Hyundai but then found two parked vehicles with extensive damage on the 1900 block of Nedro Avenue.
The officers then spotted the Hyundai across the street and saw Plowden, who was unarmed, sitting on a sidewalk with his hand placed in his jacket pocket, according to investigators. The officers aimed their weapons at Plowden and ordered him several times to show his hands, officials said. Ruch then fired one shot, striking Plowden in the left hand and the head.
Plowden was taken to the Einstein Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead.
The Philadelphia Police Department’s Use of Force Review Board investigated the shooting and determined Plowden was dazed and confused at the time of the incident. On Wednesday, Commissioner Ross announced that Ruch was suspended for 30 days with the intent to dismiss.
Ross also said that Ruch used poor tactics when he opened fire on Plowden and "did not display the proper handling or discharge of his department issued firearm," in according with the department's use of force policy.
“The officer should’ve taken advantage of cover and concealment as the other three officers did,” Ross said. “This would’ve afforded him the opportunity to deescalate the situation where time was on his side. The other officers did not fire.”
It’s unknown at this time whether the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office will pursue charges against Ruch, who is a 10-year veteran of the 35th District.
The December incident was the second time Ruch was involved in a shooting last year. He was one of three officers placed on administrative duty following the shooting of Tyler Nichols, an alleged drug dealer, back on Feb. 15, 2017.
The shooting occurred in the East Germantown section of Northwest Philadelphia, which is also where Plowden was shot. During the incident Ruch and two other officers tried to stop the suspect as he left what was described at the time as a "known drug house."
Nichols, who suffered bullet wounds to his torso and legs, was arrested. A gun which came back stolen from Upper Darby was recovered by police.
The Fraternal Order of Police released a statement regarding Officer Ruch.
“We will represent officer Eric Ruch Jr. against these latest allegations," they wrote. "Our attorneys will gather all the facts of the case and appropriately defend the officer.”