Former Philadelphia police officer sentenced for killing unarmed man

A jury convicted Eric Ruch of voluntary manslaughter in September.

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Thursday, November 17, 2022
Fmr. Philly police officer sentenced for killing unarmed man
A judge sentenced a former Philadelphia police officer Thursday for killing an unarmed man while on duty.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A judge sentenced a former Philadelphia police officer Thursday for killing an unarmed Black man while on duty.

Eric Ruch will spend 11.5 to 23 months behind bars for the 2017 shooting.

Eric Ruch Jr.

A jury convicted Ruch of voluntary manslaughter in September but found him not guilty of third-degree murder.

The felony manslaughter charge carries a term of up to 20 years in prison.

Ruch was on trial for the shooting death of 25-year-old Dennis Plowden following a high-speed chase through Germantown.

Just before sentencing, Judge Barbara McDermott said that prison would not help Ruch or the community.

She went on to say that the former officer would be walking out of court if it weren't for the third factor when considering sentencing- the severity of the charge and the loss of life.

In this case, Dennis Plowden's life.

Dennis Plowden

"What you all may see as justice for the family, we do not," said Plowden's widow, Tania Bond.

Plowden's family has waited five years for this trial and sentencing to be over, but the outcome brings no closure.

"My brother died in vain and we waited five long years to receive no justice at all," said Plowden's sister, Diamond Plowden.

Dennis Plowden was fatally shot in the head by former officer Ruch after a high-speed car chase and subsequent crash in Germantown.

He was unarmed with his left hand raised to his head.

"I don't think he was really sorry," said Plowden's mother, Chinita McCoy.

Ruch cried throughout the victim impact statements read by Plowden's family, and character witness statements made by his own family and friends.

"He's thankful that the court considered him, his background and his character," said defense attorney David Mischak.

Judge Barbara McDermott also considered the dangerous conditions at the time of the shooting.

She said though the jury found Ruch's actions to be unjustified, it was Plowden who refused to stop, crashing into cars and officers and endangering the community before the shooting.

Plowden's family disagrees.

"Dennis was no monster, he was a threat to no one. If anything he was nothing but a victim that night," said Bond.

The District Attorney's Office pointed out how light the sentence was in a statement: "Voluntary Manslaughter where a deadly weapon was used is a minimum of 54 months and a maximum of 72 months."

The D.A.'s Office has not yet said if it would appeal , but a spokeswoman notes that prosecutors have a 30 day window to do so.