The jury deciding the fate of former Philadelphia police Officer Eric Ruch Jr., facing third-degree murder charges, completed a second day of deliberations Tuesday without reaching a verdict. It is to resume its discussions Wednesday.
The racially mixed panel of seven men and five women began deliberations Monday afternoon in a case in which prosecutors say Ruch, 34, lacked legal justification for his fatal shooting of Dennis Plowden, 25, on Dec, 27, 2017. The defense says Ruch fired in self-defense against what appeared to be a possible threat.
The trial, presided over by Common Pleas Court Judge Barbara A. McDermott, is the first such murder trial in Philadelphia in nearly four decades. The case is one of three against former officers brought by District Attorney Larry Krasner since he took office in 2018. The other cases are pending.
Should the jury find Ruch guilty, Ruch’s sentence would be decided by McDermott. Third-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years.
Ruch fatally shot Plowden after a car chase in the city’s Olney section. Assistant district attorneys Vincent Corrigan and Brian Collins say Plowden was unarmed and was in the process of surrendering. Ruch, as well as other police on the scene that night, say that they feared Plowden was reaching for a gun before Ruch opened fire.