1:36 PM / Tuesday December 6, 2022

24 Nov 2022

Officer gets less than 2 years for killing unarmed Black man

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
November 24, 2022 Category: Local Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO INSERT: This undated photo provided by Philadelphia Police Department shows former Philadelphia Police Officer Eric Ruch Jr., charged with first-degree murder, Oct. 9, 2020, in the 2017 shooting of a Black man after a high-speed car chase. (Philadelphia Police Department via AP, File)


PHILADELPHIA — A judge last Thursday sentenced a white Philadelphia police officer to 11½ to 23 months in prison in the 2017 fatal shooting of an unarmed Black motorist, far less than the decades behind bars he potentially faced.

Officer Eric Ruch Jr. shot and killed 25-year-old Dennis Plowden Jr. six seconds after arriving on the scene as Plowden sat on a sidewalk upon crashing a car during a high-speed chase. He was fired from the department months later.

Ruch, 34, was charged in 2020 and convicted in September of voluntary manslaughter and a weapons charge. The voluntary manslaughter charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

But during the sentencing, Common Pleas Court Judge Barbara McDermott said Ruch had demonstrated good behavior since he was charged and a longer sentence would not offer him any rehabilitation. 

The sentence also includes parole eligibility and carries no financial penalties.

“Nothing he is going to do in prison is going to make him a better person,” McDermott said.

The judge’s decision outraged Ruch’s family.

“I wasn’t surprised, but I was disappointed,” Plowden’s widow, Tania Bond, said outside the courthouse, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Who wastes five years to come to court and hear 11 to 23 months? Did we value Dennis’ life or did we just throw something out there to feel like we shut the family up and feel like we satisfied?”

During the trial, Ruch told jurors he feared for his life when he fired at Plowden. He said Plowden had his left hand raised, but kept his right hand hidden despite police orders.

Prosecutors said there was no justification to shoot Plowden, noting that several other officers took cover and held their fire.

The bullet from Ruch’s gun went through Plowden’s raised left hand before striking him in the head. He died the next day.

During the trial, the defense attorney asked jurors to consider the two-minute chase through a city neighborhood that preceded the shooting. Plowden was driving a car initially thought to be linked to a recent homicide. But authorities said that he was not involved in that case.

The jury rejected a more serious third-degree murder charge, but also convicted Ruch of possessing an instrument of crime.

Ruch is one of three city police officers who had been charged with murder for their on-duty actions by District Attorney Larry Krasner, a longtime civil rights lawyer who frequently sued police earlier in his career. A first-degree murder charge filed against Ruch was dropped before trial.

Krasner’s office has 10 days to appeal the sentence, though prosecutors declined to immediately comment, according to the Inquirer.

Plowden’s widow won a $1.2 million wrongful death settlement from the city.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News


Jeffries wins historic bid to lead House Dems after Pelosi

December 2, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., talks with reporters on Capitol Hill in...

Go With The-Flo

Trevor Noah hosted a “Black Theater Night” for the Tony-winning Best Musical “A Strange Loop”

December 2, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Trevor Noah ( By Flo Anthony On Nov. 29, Trevor Noah,...

Food And Beverage

What’s Cookin’? Vegan Oatmeal Butternut Squash Risotto

December 2, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email Tweet Share Pin Email Related Posts What’s Cookin’? Vegan Butternut Squash Mac and...


Senior Fitness: You may have more choices than you think

December 2, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email BPT Do you struggle with starting or maintaining a fitness routine? Don’t worry,...


Do you have the winter sniffles? Five ways you can manage indoor winter allergies

December 2, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email BPT Do you suffer from itchy eyes, a runny nose or a scratchy...

Color Of Money

Feeling the stress of high energy bills?  New programs help lower costs

December 2, 2022

Tweet Share Pin Email BPT  Soaring energy prices equate to rising energy bills for households nationwide. This...

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff