A Forsyth County jury acquitted a Rural Hall man late Thursday afternoon of the most serious charge he was facing — attempted first-degree murder — for getting out of his car and firing his gun four times at a Kernersville police officer during a routine traffic stop in June 2017. The officer was not injured.
But the jury did find Broderick Tywone Ruth, 34, guilty of several other charges, including assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, assault with a firearm on a law-enforcement officer and fleeing to elude arrest. He was also found guilty of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was convicted in 2006 of attempted second-degree rape.
Judge Stanley Allen gave Ruth three consecutive sentences that totaled a minimum of 12 years and nine months to a maximum of 17 years and 10 months in prison.
There was no dispute during the trial that Ruth fired the gun at Kernersville police officer Frank Sanchez around 1 a.m. on June 10, 2017. The dispute was over whether Ruth intended to kill Ruth when he pulled his gun out and started shooting.
Sanchez testified Wednesday that he was out on patrol that night when he saw Ruth run through a stop sign in the 700 block of West Mountain Street in Kernersville. Sanchez turned on his blue lights. Ruth and Sanchez pulled their cars over on West Mountain Street that had houses on one side and the Fourth of July Park on the other.
Sanchez told the jury that he didn’t even have the chance to begin calling a dispatcher about the traffic stop before Ruth got out of his car and pulled a 9 mm handgun. Ruth fired the gun but it didn’t go off because a bullet was not in the chamber. Ruth racked the slide on the gun, raised his arm again and fired four times.
Two of the bullets missed completely. One bullet went into the hood on the passenger side of Sanchez’s patrol car. And another bullet hit the side mirror on the passenger side. Sanchez said once Ruth started firing, he jumped out of his vehicle and ran to the rear of his car.
Ruth got back into his car and began backing his car into Sanchez’s car, and Sanchez said he believed Ruth was trying to run him over. That’s when Sanchez said he started firing his weapon. Soon after, Ruth drove away, with Sanchez in pursuit.
Reaching speeds of more than 100 mph at some points, Sanchez chased Ruth down West Mountain Street and then onto U.S. 421 toward Winston-Salem. The chase ended on Old Greensboro Road when Ruth shut off his lights to avoid detection and crashed into a tree in someone’s yard, according to testimony.
In closing arguments Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Lizmar Bosques called what Ruth did an ambush. She said Ruth formed the intent to kill three separate times — the first time he pulled the trigger and it failed to fire, the second time when he pulled the trigger four times and a third time when he got into his car and attempted to run Sanchez over.
“He only stopped shooting (the second time) because the gun jammed,” Bosques told the jury. “This attack only stopped when Officer Sanchez was able to (get) cover and start firing.”
Ruth’s attorney, William Speaks, argued to the jury that prosecutors Bosques and Annie Hughes failed to prove that Ruth attempted to murder Sanchez. Ruth fired his gun not at Sanchez but at his car. One of the bullets not only hit the hood of Sanchez’s car but struck the hood on the far passenger side of the car, Speaks said.
“That’s not intent to kill,” he said. “That’s intent to shoot into a car or to scare Officer Sanchez, which is not a legal act,” Speaks said. “He was scared. He was trying to disable the car.”
The jury deliberated about three hours Thursday before coming back with a verdict. During deliberations, jurors did ask to re-watch Sanchez’s body-camera and dash-camera footage and to look at pictures of Sanchez’s car.
Ruth admitted to several aggravating factors that prosecutors were planning to prove to the jury, including that Ruth committed an offense against a law-enforcement officer and that Ruth was on pre-trial release for a pending driving-while-impaired charge when the shooting happened.
Bosques urged Allen to impose a harsh sentence. Sanchez could have been killed on June 10, 2017, Bosques said. And she pointed to Ruth’s conviction of attempted second-degree rape.
“I would contend to you that he is a dangerous man and he needs to be locked up,” she said.
Ruth apologized to Sanchez before he was sentenced, his voice breaking at times and his arms lifted in the air.
“I take full responsibility,” he said.