On November 17, 2022, former Philadelphia Police Officer Eric Ruch Jr. was sentenced to 11½ to 23 months in prison for his recent conviction of Voluntary Manslaughter and Possession of an Instrument of Crime for the killing of Dennis Plowden, who was unarmed, after a vehicular pursuit on December 27, 2017.
The Citizen’s Police Oversight Commission (CPOC) respects the City’s judicial process and commends the court system for providing closure in delivering its verdict. While the judicial process has been a long five-year journey, it ultimately has provided some accountability for Ruch’s actions.
Criminal trials like this in Philadelphia are extremely rare – Ruch’s trial is the first murder trial against a PPD officer in nearly 40 years. This sentence will serve as an example of how the City and its Police Department can and should hold officers accountable when they violate the most important Department policy regarding the use of deadly force. Furthermore, the judicial outcome of this case should pave the way for jurisdictions across the commonwealth and nation to hold their police officers accountable and ensure justice is served when officers engage in criminal misconduct.
Though this sentence will not make up for the loss of Dennis Plowden’s life, it will hopefully provide some comfort and justice to his loved ones and to Philadelphia residents. Dennis was a father, son and brother and his loss has caused immeasurable pain to his family, who were still coping with the murder of Dennis’ brother Darryl that occurred in 2016. His wife Tania has described him as a man who was true to his word and at the time of his death, he was learning to rehab houses and was a few credits away from earning his high school diploma at Northeast High School’s Twilight School program. The night Dennis was killed, he was going to see his mother and drop off Christmas gifts. Ruch’s decision robbed Dennis’ family of the bright future he had.
As police reforms continue and officers are held accountable for their actions, CPOC will serve to provide oversight of the Philadelphia Police Department and provide Philadelphia residents with the necessary transparency they deserve from the Police Department sworn to protect them. The Commission extends its sincerest condolences to the family and loved ones of Mr. Plowden.