A manslaughter charge has been brought against a former Philadelphia police officer.
After a high-speed chase, a jury decided that Eric Ruch Jr.'s killing of Dennis Plowden Jr., a Black man who wasn't carrying a gun, was careless and wrong.
On Wednesday, a former Philadelphia police officer was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the 2017 shooting death of a 25-year-old Black man who was unarmed. The shooting happened after a high-speed chase ended in a crash.
The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office says that Eric Ruch Jr., 34, was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and possession of a weapon of crime (his handgun) after a jury deliberated for about 15 hours over three days.
The jury found him not guilty of third-degree murder, which is a more serious charge. But the jury decided that Mr. Ruch, who is white, was careless when he shot directly at Dennis Plowden Jr.'s head after the accident on December 27, 2017. When he is sentenced on Nov. 17, he could get up to 25 years in prison.
The Philadelphia Inquirer said that when the verdict was given, Mr. Ruch bowed his head and cried.
The district attorney's office said that Judge Barbara McDermott of the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia took away Mr. Ruch's bail and told the police to keep him in jail until he was sentenced.
Through a spokeswoman, Philadelphia's district attorney, Larry Krasner, said that he would talk more freely about the case after the sentencing. In a statement, he also thanked the jury for their work during the eight-day trial. The jury was made up of six white people, three Black people, and three people who said they were of mixed race.
The district attorney's office said that Mr. Ruch was found guilty two years after a grand jury said he should also be charged with first-degree murder. However, as prosecutors worked on their case, this charge was dropped.
In a statement, Mr. Ruch's lawyer, David Mischak, said that prosecutors "vigorously pursued a murder conviction."
He said, "This verdict shows that the jury didn't agree with that theory and that there was never a murder case." "My client won't close any doors as they move forward."
The first charges were filed in 2020, after the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky. At that time, people were paying more attention to police brutality and killings.
The Associated Press said that Mr. Ruch told the jury that he was afraid for his life when he fired because Mr. Plowden didn't show his right hand when asked to. Five other officers said in court that they thought Mr. Plowden was reaching for a gun at the time of the incident.
In fact, Mr. Plowden wasn't even carrying a weapon during the fight.
The Inquirer said that during the trial, the prosecutors said that the officers were not telling the truth because Mr. Plowden was not a threat while he was sitting there dazed. When Mr. Ruch fired his gun at Mr. Plowden, Mr. Plowden had his left hand up to his face. Prosecutors said this showed that Mr. Plowden was giving up. The bullet hit Mr. Plowden in the head after going through his hand.
Prosecutors say that Mr. Ruch made a radio call from an unmarked police car asking to check the registration on the white Hyundai that Mr. Plowden was driving. This was the start of the chase that led to Mr. Plowden's death.
After the police found out that the registration was valid, they said that Mr. Plowden briefly stopped and then hit the open door of an unmarked police car as he was driving away.
That made the police follow him "at high speed until he hit three parked cars, spun around, and finally stopped after hitting a pole," according to the district attorney's office.
Last year, The New York Times found that questionable police practices during encounters with drivers over traffic stops for minor offenses made it more likely that dangerous or deadly situations would happen.
Mr. Ruch was fired from the Police Department almost a year after the shooting.
The Associated Press said that Tania Bond, who was married to Mr. Plowden, got $1.2 million from the city last year as a settlement for her wrongful-death lawsuit against the city.