COURT WATCH: Jury Trial Finds Accused Not Read Miranda Rights as Questioned Twice by Officer

By Kyndall Dowell and Sofia Hosseinzadeh 

MODESTO, CA – Modesto Police Officer Ryan Vander Tuig, during a jury trial Monday in Stanislaus County Superior Court, admitted to not reading a Stanislaus County woman her Miranda rights when questioning her twice at the scene of the crime

On Sept. 22, 2022 Vander Tuig responded to an altercation between the accused and a separate party. When the officer arrived at the scene, he said he initially spoke to the accused to understand the context of the altercation.

After getting a different account of the situation from the complaining witnesses, Vander Tuig questioned the accused again about what had happened. The accused was ultimately charged with a felony.

Defense attorney Justin Ward questioned Officer Vander Tuig about whether the accused knew her Miranda rights at any point during the altercation, which Vander Tuig did not know.

Defense attorney Ward also accused Officer Vander Tuig of siding with the complaining witnesses’ story after the officer argued, “I believed their (the complaining witness’) information was true.”

Defense counsel continued his questioning about how Officer Vander Tuig performed during the altercation adding, “You separated (the accused) and took her off to a side area.” Defense attorney Ward argued this choice could imply the accused may be arrested.

“Sometimes information can get misconstrued … If I have differing information I want to make sure I understand… I got to ask clarifying questions,” Officer Vander Tuig testified, defending his choice to seclude the accused, claiming, “I want to make sure (the accused’s) statement was clear to me before I made the decision that anyone was going to be arrested.”

“At that point she was separated from her family, she was questioned, and she was confronted with statements that the complaining witness made and asked to respond to those” defense attorney Ward argued.

Ward added, “In that situation the officer is attempting to elicit incriminating responses,” assuming that “a reasonable person in that situation would assume they are not free to leave. If her rights had been read to her, she would have known ‘I don’t have to speak to him’ and that did not occur at that point.

“My request is (to narrow the emphasis on) the second questioning that took place because at that point the officer in his mind had already had a narrative of the events that he believed to be true that differed from (the accused),” defense counsel Ward concluded.

In his argument against the defense motion, Deputy District Attorney Zynal Aziz said “these were investigation questions, the officer testified that he spoke (the accused) the first time, went to speak to the victims and returned to clarify things,”

DDA Aziz continued, stating, “He testified that (the accused) was not under arrest. He even starts off with the first thing he asked her which was ‘Can I talk to you over here?’ The only reason she was separated from the family was to get a clear response… At no point was the accused arrested until after the conclusion of the investigation.”

Judge Kellee Westbrook supported the defense argument, noting, “It sounds like the officer was trying to ascertain what happened before he made an arresting decision. Actually it’s irrelevant whether he decided if she was going to be arrested or not.

“It was the conduct that was displayed by the officer was that he was just doing the investigation and she was not cuffed, she wasn’t in the patrol vehicle or anything like that,” Judge Westbrook concluded.

According to the Cornell Law School, a police officer is required to read an individual their Miranda rights after being detained.

The trial is ongoing this week.

About The Author

Kyndall Dowell is a graduating student from the University of California, Berkeley where she began her long standing career in student organizing and activism, headlining campaigns, building coalitions, and chairing departments across the state of California. Many of her efforts included K-12 reform, school-to-prison pipeline, and police brutality, as well as efforts around supporting marginalized student groups and communities on campus with obtaining access to funding and other essential resources. She has earned her Bachelors in African American Studies with a double minor both in Education and Race and Law. She hails from Inglewood's East Hyde Park District where repeated exposure to the criminal justice system from an early age allowed her to find her place in social justice and advocacy work, where she knew she wanted to be on the right side of history making. Kyndall's career passions are greatly influenced by her South Los Angeles upbringing where she spent a great deal of her youth, living in West Adams, Baldwin Village also known as 'The Jungles', and Crenshaw's 59th and Slauson neighborhoods. In an attempt to avoid the troubles of street violence her mother moved her and her sisters to Hawthorne, where she attended Leuzinger High School off Rosecrans and Jefferson in an area less criminally active though heavily policed. She's a skilled facilitator in Restorative Justice and hopes to use her education and transformative Black Feminist philosophy to become an impactful Criminal Defense Attorney. At the current moment she is working as a Legal Assistant at a Law Firm in downtown Oakland and will be pursuing her Paralegal license through the UCLA Law Certificate program to obtain in-field experience before tackling Law school. In her free-time she enjoys shopping, cooking, reading, traveling and hanging out with friends.

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