Ex-Philadelphia cop charged in fatal shooting of Black man

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

A white former Philadelphia police officer was charged Friday with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of a Black man after a high-speed car chase nearly three years ago.

Former Officer Eric Ruch Jr. shot and killed Dennis Plowden Jr., 25, only seconds after Plowden crashed his car at 77 mph (125 kph), stumbled out of it and fell to the ground, authorities said.

Plowden, dazed and unarmed, was holding his empty left hand in front of his face when Ruch fired the fatal shot, prosecutors said. Four other officers who were on the scene and had taken cover did not fire their weapons, according to a grand jury presentment.

The grand jury said Ruch shot Plowden in the head without justification as Plowden looked “dazed and lost on the sidewalk."

“Ruch intentionally fired on Dennis Plowden less than 20 seconds after the Hyundai he had been driving crashed at nearly 80 miles an hour, Mr. Plowden had fallen to the ground, and yet was still attempting to obey commands," the grand jury wrote.

Ruch, who was fired about 10 months after the shooting, turned himself in Friday to face charges of first-degree murder, third-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter and possession of an instrument of crime. Prosecutors expected him to be held without bail.

The police union said its lawyers will defend the former officer.

“We will represent former police officer Eric Ruch Jr. against these serious charges. Our attorneys will review the allegations and appropriately defend this officer,” said John McNesby, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 5. “Officer Ruch Jr. is entitled to due process, and we believe the judicial system will protect his rights to a fair trial.”