Philadelphia Police Officer Identified in Fatal Shooting of Unarmed Man Shot Another Suspect 10 Months Earlier

Officer Eric Ruch Jr. had been placed on administrative leave in February for another shooting.

Philadelphia police identified the officer who fatally shot an unarmed man Wednesday as Eric Ruch Jr., a nine-year veteran.

Ruch discharged one round as Dennis Plowden, 25, sat on the sidewalk following a brief police chase, according to an account of the shooting and what led up to the incident that was released Saturday night by the police department.

Plowden, who had been stopped minutes earlier because he was driving a car police have said was sought in connection with a homicide investigation, allegedly reached his hand into his jacket pocket before Ruch shot him in the head, the account said. Since the shooting, police have said Plowden was not a suspect in the homicide.

It is the second time in 10 months Ruch has been involved in the shooting of a suspect. He was one of three officers placed on administrative duty following the shooting of a suspected drug dealer in February.

It was not immediately known what happened to the investigation into that shooting, which occurred when Ruch and two other officers tried to stop the suspect as he left what was described at the time as a "known drug house." That shooting occurred in the East Germantown section of Northwest Philadelphia, which is also were Plowden was shot Wednesday.

A police spokeswoman said she did not have information about the Feb. 15 shooting of Tyler Nichols, who suffered bullet wounds to his torso and legs in the incident on Lambert Street. A gun which came back stolen from Upper Darby was recovered by police after Nichols was arrested.

In the account of Plowden's shooting, police did not indicate why Plowden fled officers after he was stopped about 8:40 p.m. at 16th Street and Nedro Avenue.

"Additional Officers responded to 16th Street and Nedro Avenue, and as the Officers began to exit the vehicle, the male accelerated the Hyundai, striking the passenger door of the police vehicle, and contacting the officer," the account said of the initial traffic stop. "The male then drove from the scene at a high rate of speed going west on Nedro Avenue."

Officers momentarily lost sight of the vehicle Plowden was driving, but then found two parked vehicles with extensive damage in the 1900 block of Nedro Avenue. Plowden's vehicle was across the street.

Plowden "exited the Hyundai and attempted to run north on Opal Street," according to the account. "Officers exited their patrol vehicle, drew their firearms, and gave numerous commands for the male to show his hands."

He was "in a seated position on the sidewalk at the time of the discharge" by Ruch, the account said.

Plowden had "placed his hand in his jacket pocket" when Ruch shot him, according to the account.

The officer who was struck when Plowden fled the initial traffic stop was treated for injuries to his right arm and hand at Temple University Hospital and released.

A 27-year-old woman in the car with Plowden was treated at Albert Einstein Medical Center for bruises and abrasions suffered in the crash.

The investigation into the shooting remains open, police said, and Ruch has been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome.

Contact Us