Police Abuse

Philly Cop Fatally Shoots Unarmed Man Sitting on Sidewalk After Chase, Crash

It's the officer's second shooting in ten months.

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family photo via NBC Philadelphia

A Philadelphia police officer has shot and killed an unarmed man who was sitting on a sidewalk. Police say the man had been driving a vehicle "sought in connection with a homicide investigation," but they now say he was not a suspect in the homicide, NBC 10 reports.

This was Officer Eric Ruch Jr.'s second shooting in less than a year. As before, he has been placed on administrative leave while an investigation is conducted.

Ruch's latest victim is Dennis Plowden, who police say sat on the sidewalk after a "brief police chase." When the cops found him, he had crashed his car into a number of parked vehicles. A female passenger in his car was later taken to the hospital for abrasions.

Ruch shot Plowden once, claiming the man was reaching into his pocket. No gun was found on Plowden, in his car, or on the scene.

Police claim that Plowden drove off after being stopped by cops. According to a police statement, Plowden "accelerated the Hyundai, striking the passenger door of the police vehicle, and contacting the officer [who was exiting his patrol car]."

Given that police officers generally pull up behind a subject they're pulling over, it's unclear how or why the officer in question placed himself in harm's way.

Police did not publicly release the results of the last investigation of a Ruch shooting, which they say involved a suspected drug dealer. (The dealer survived.) Police claimed to have found a stolen gun at the scene then, but a police spokesperson could not offer NBC 10 any details on what the investigation revealed.

We know Ruch was sent back to the streets because he's found himself in trouble again. It remains to be seen whether this investigation will be any different, although Philadelphia's new district attorney, the former criminal defense and civil rights attorney Larry Krasner, has promised to hold cops to account for misconduct.

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  1. It’s been established that a reach constitutes a good shoot.

    1. If it happened, and if the guy wasn’t reaching for the ID that the cop had just requested. If I’m on a jury, and the cops don’t have video, the “reach” didn’t happen.

  2. According to a police statement, Plowden “accelerated the Hyundai, striking the passenger door of the police vehicle, and contacting the officer [who was exiting his patrol car].”

    Come on, everybody knows that’s a capital offense, sentence to be passed immediately by every officer on the scene.

    1. Yeah it’s hard not to read this as a cold execution. Cops *really* love to push that *any* driving of a car towards an officer is “assault with a deadly weapon”, so bump the cop car triggers the gang retaliation mentality.

      1. It happened here in Norfolk a few years ago. The news report makes it sound almost reasonable, but my wife’s boss witnessed the whole thing and she said it didn’t go down quite like that. A cop car sped into the bank parking lot and slammed on its brakes right in front of Future Dead Guy’s car, and then when F.D.G. (understandably) panicked and backed up, he clipped one of the cops who was running up from behind. This necessitated the other Rambo putting seven bullets through Now Dead Guy’s face. Both cops were quickly cleared of any wrongdoing, and the city (read: me and my fellow taxpayers) quietly settled with N.D.G.’s family for a hundred and sixty large a couple years later.

        Entirely absent from any analysis of the event was this: why the fuck were shock and awe tactics necessary to catch a guy whose attempt to cash a forged stolen check had already been made by the bank?

        1. Also of note: the middle school across the street from the bank had just let out, so there were kids walking through the scene when our heroes decided to put a bunch of lead in the air.

          1. there were kids walking through the scene when our heroes decided to put a bunch of lead in the air.

            Charming.

  3. The female passenger was brought to the hospital to be treated for abrasions and just one guy was fatally shot? I’d say the cop showed remarkable restraint.

    I mean, this is Philadelphia. Fire-bombing the suspect’s apartment building and burning down an entire city block isn’t out-of-bounds for these cops, so this guy is probably going to be teased for being a softie by his fellow cops.

  4. I thought cops were supposed to be heroic but they always come off as cowards.

    1. That does seem true at times. Where’s the courage? It’s not even in the top ten most hazardous jobs.

  5. Given that police officers generally pull up behind a subject they’re pulling over

    Yep, we’re subjects.

  6. Reaching into your pocket (or a cop saying you did so) is a capital offense apparently.

    Also, stories like this make me sympathetic to the position that cops should have a mandatory retirement if they fire their weapon without being fired upon first. If you really fear for your life, giving up your job is worth it.

    1. Also, stories like this make me sympathetic to the position that cops should have a mandatory retirement if they fire their weapon without being fired upon first. If you really fear for your life, giving up your job is worth it.
      Don’t be ridiculous. Unless officers are allowed to execute potentially dangerous civilians, their lives are gravely imperiled. Blue Live Matter.

    2. It’s a wonder any of us survive going in public on any given day with so many hands in pockets or near waistlines.

      1. Heh – like anybody on Reason goes out in public…

    3. When will people coming into contact with the cops learn to follow BLM’s instructions: Hands up, “Don’t shoot.”We’ll see if new d.a. Krasner has the balls to take on the Phila. FOP.

  7. Given that police officers generally pull up behind a subject they’re pulling over, it’s unclear how or why the officer in question placed himself in harm’s way.

    This is Officer Doe, J., Officer B, his partner, or another officer on the scene right? Presumably, if Ruch was the only officer on the scene, he didn’t get ‘contacted’ while exiting the passenger side door of the car he was driving. If it wasn’t Ruch and he was exiting the vehicle when Plowden struck the door, I’m confused as to why he’s not smushed.

    I can only assume this vague description of what actually happened is the direct product of a/the police report and that bodycam footage won’t be forthcoming anytime soon.

  8. It’s the officer’s second shooting in ten months.

    He’s keeping his aim true by practicing on live targets periodically. Many police officers do the same, especially when the target is one that contrasts better against the background, i.e. he or she is black.

  9. What’s the cubicle drone equivalent of shooting someone dead and then getting paid vacation as punishment? It’s just that I don’t think my vacation was long enough.

    1. Committing fraud, then retiring early with a golden parachute.

    2. How about cops put on unpaid leave, which will accelerate the damn investigation, and then get back pay only if exonerated?

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