Texas State Trooper Billy Spears who was reprimanded earlier this year for posing for a picture with Snoop Dogg, has filed a civil lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safetly and it’s director, Col. Steve McCraw on the grounds of harassment.
Last March, Spears was working in an off-duty security capacity during the South by Southwest festival in Austin when one of Snoop’s assistants snapped the famous photo and posted it to Instagram.
Soon after, DPS punished Spears for posing with the famous rapper and forced him into counseling, claiming that “posing with a public figure who has a well-known criminal background including numerous drug charges,” reflected “poorly on the agency.”
Spears’ attorney, Ty Clevenger, released a statement yesterday on his blog that alleges the reprimand was payback for blowing the whistle on a fellow brother in blue…
The reprimand was part of a retaliation campaign that began when Billy filed a misconduct complaint against a sergeant with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and the lawsuit names the sergeant and nine DPS supervisors as defendants.
Despite the nearly universal consensus that DPS commanders were making fools of themselves (and the rest of us who live in this state), the commanders dug in their heels and refused to admit that they made a mistake.
The complaint originated last year when Spears was illegally detained by Sgt. Marcus Stokke of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission without probable cause while Spears was off duty at a concert.
It appears that Sgt. Stokke thought Billy disrespected him in public (a charge disputed by Billy and other witnesses), but then “disrespecting the po-po” is not supposed to be a crime in this country. Clevenger adds.
Spears then reported Sgt. Stokke to TABC internal affairs, the Wood County Sheriff’s Office, and the Texas Rangers (a unit within DPS) on the grounds that the sergeant violated Section 39.03 of the Texas Penal Code, which outlaws unlawful arrests or detentions. Instead of investigating Sgt. Stokke, however, DPS opened an administrative investigation of Billy. Meanwhile, Captain Andy Pena of TABC internal affairs (formerly of DPS internal affairs) refused to investigate Sgt. Stokke because, he said, Billy did not sign the complaint form as required by the Government Code. So never mind whether his officer committed a crime, Captain Pena is not going to do anything unless that complaint form is signed.
Clevenger also posted a vintage photo of two DPS troopers posing with Willie Nelson. Apparently it’s OK to be photographed with a long-haired white musician who smokes weed, but not a long-haired black musician who smokes weed. This just goes to show the hypocrisy of what “reflects poorly” on the agency.
Spears will eventually get his day in court and may even receive a favorable judgement, however, he will most likely be blackballed by the department, if he hasn’t been already. Its nearly impossible to report the wrongdoings of a fellow officer without the fear of being ostracized, demoted, and/or fired.