Officer convicted of manslaughter in Black motorist’s death

Sep 21, 2022, 2:04 AM | Updated: 2:07 pm

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A white Philadelphia police officer was convicted Wednesday of voluntary manslaughter and a weapons charge in the fatal shooting of an unarmed Black motorist shot six seconds after the officer arrived on the scene.

Officer Eric Ruch Jr. told jurors he feared for his life when he fired at Dennis Plowden Jr. as the 25-year-old sat on a sidewalk after crashing a car during a high-speed chase. He said Plowden had his left hand raised, but kept his right hand hidden despite police orders. The officer said he could not take cover and feared he would be shot.

Only later did he realize that Plowden was unarmed, the defense said.

“As soon as my client discovered it was heroin and not a gun, he was upset. He was distraught,” lawyer David Mischak said in opening statements last week.

Ruch, 34, dropped his head and cried upon hearing the verdict Wednesday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. He was soon taken into custody.

The jury rejected a more serious third-degree murder charge, but also convicted Ruch of possessing an instrument of crime. The felony manslaughter charge carries a term of up to 20 years in prison. Sentencing is set for Nov. 17.

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 him was dropped before trial.

Krasner had little comment after the verdict, thanking jurors for what he called their “noble and demanding” public service, but said he expected to say more at Ruch’s sentencing.

Mischak did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

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, however, that he was not involved in that case.

“It was a tragedy,” Mischak said of the young man’s death. “To call my client a criminal really compounds that tragedy.”

In a key pretrial ruling, Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Barbara McDermott barred prosecutors from telling jurors about a series of complaints filed against Ruch during his 10-year police career because he was mostly cleared of wrongdoing by internal affairs.

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.

Ruch was fired from the police department 10 months later.

Plowden’s widow, Tania Bond, who briefly testified at the trial, won a $1.2 million wrongful death settlement from the city.

___

Follow AP Legal Affairs Writer Maryclaire Dale on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Maryclairedale

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Former Bremerton High School assistant football coach Joe Kennedy answers questions after his legal...
Luis Andres Henao, The Associated Press

After Supreme Court backs Bremerton praying coach, no sweeping changes

Three months after the decision, there’s no sign that large numbers of coaches have been newly inspired to follow Joseph Kennedy’s high-profile example.
19 hours ago
FILE - Sheriff's deputies recover the remains of a victim of the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif., Nov...
Associated Press

Ex-PG&E execs to pay $117M to settle lawsuit over wildfires

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Former executives and directors of Pacific Gas & Electric have agreed to pay $117 million to settle a lawsuit over devastating 2017 and 2018 California wildfires sparked by the utility’s equipment, it was announced Thursday. The settlement was announced by the PG&E Fire Victim Trust, which was established to handle claims […]
19 hours ago
(Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)...
Associated Press

GOP candidate apologizes after antisemitic post surfaces

A GOP candidate for the Washington Legislature has acknowledged that a post he put on social media in 2020 is antisemitic.
19 hours ago
Associated Press

Veteran EMS worker fatally stabbed in random NYC attack

NEW YORK (AP) — A longtime emergency medical worker with New York City’s fire department who was a first responder on Sept. 11 was killed in an apparently random stabbing in broad daylight, police said Thursday. The stabbing happened at approximately 2:15 p.m. in Queens, about a half-block from the station where FDNY EMS Lt. […]
19 hours ago
Associated Press

California care home sued over resident’s poisoning death

SAN MATEO, Calif. (AP) — The family of a woman who died after she was accidentally served dishwashing liquid as drinking juice at a San Francisco Bay Area care home sued the facility on Thursday. Trudy Maxwell, 93, was served an alkaline liquid “more toxic than Drano,” Niall McCarthy, an attorney for the family, said […]
19 hours ago
First responders with Orange County Fire Rescue use an inflatable boat to rescue a resident from a ...
Associated Press

Study finds that climate change added 10% to Ian’s rainfall

Climate change added at least 10% more rain to Hurricane Ian, a study prepared immediately after the storm shows. Thursday’s research, which is not peer-reviewed, compared peak rainfall rates during the real storm to about 20 different computer scenarios of a model with Hurricane Ian’s characteristics slamming into the Sunshine State in a world with […]
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Officer convicted of manslaughter in Black motorist’s death