An off-duty Ceres police officer who shot a man in Beyer Park last month was in the park with the man’s wife when the incident occurred, Modesto police said Thursday.
Officer Thomas Miller and Rosio Moland were together in the park about 10:20 p.m. March 29 when they were approached by Jason Moland, said Modesto police Chief Galen Carroll.
He said Jason Moland was fatally shot within seconds of confronting the two and pointing a gun at Miller. The gun was initially thought to be a BB gun, but was later found to be a pellet gun.
Detectives are still investigating the relationship between Rosio Moland and Miller, who also is married.
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“Obviously, if you are at a park at 10:30 at night in a dark area of the park with someone other than your spouse, it raises questions,” Carroll said.
While investigators have talked to Rosio Moland, Miller has refused to give them a statement, he said.
Neither has returned requests from The Modesto Bee seeking comment.
He said Rosio Moland and Miller met each other when they worked for the same private company prior to Miller’s law enforcement career. Carroll said Jason Moland and Miller had met previously but only briefly. He said it doesn’t appear Jason Moland knew Miller was a police officer when he pointed the BB gun at him.
Miller was hired as a reserve for the Ceres Police Department in February 2014 and hired full time two months later.
He still is on probation, said Ceres police Chief Brent Smith.
The 12-month probation period “is to make sure the officer or employee is performing at an acceptable level and has the knowledge enough to continue in law enforcement,” Smith said.
Miller was put on paid administrative leave after the shooting and likely will remain there until his department’s internal affairs investigation and Modesto’s criminal investigation are complete.
Carroll said the criminal investigation could take a few months because there is much electronic evidence, such as cellphone records, to sort through.
“Part of that case will not just involve the shooting but the events that led up to the shooting,” Carroll said.
That includes how Jason Moland came to be at the park, what Rosio Moland and Miller were doing there, and what their relationship is.
Though Miller deleted his Facebook page the day after the shooting when his name was released to the public, Rosio Moland’s page still shows exchanges between the two dating back to November, including one Spanish phrase she sent him on at least three occasions.
“Vas a ver te voy agarrar de las grenas guey!”
It loosely translates to, “You’ll see, I’m gonna yank you by the hair.” “Guey” is a Spanish slang word. The phrase could be considered either quite aggressive or playful, depending on the context.
Jason Moland worked as a security guard at WinCo Foods and was trying to get hired by a law enforcement agency that would put him through the police academy.
He’d passed several testing requirements for the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, and background investigators had begun talking to his friends, family and neighbors.
After finishing their investigation of the shooting, detectives will forward the case to the District Attorney’s Office to determine whether criminal charges will be filed.
“The questions that your average citizen would have are the same questions we do,” Carroll said. “Plain and simple facts are you have a wife in a park with another man and her husband shows up and that husband is dead.”
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward. Tipsters may also text information to Crime Stoppers at 274637. Just type “TIP704” along with the message.
Bee staff reporter Rosalio Ahumada contributed to this report.