A Texas state trooper was reprimanded and forced into counseling after he allowed his photo to be taken with rapper Snoop Dogg.
But it’s likely the reprimand is payback on the cop for filing a complaint on another cop last year.
Trooper Billy Spears was working the South by Southwest Festival in Austin last month when the rapper asked to take a photo with him. Snoop Dogg then posted the photo to Instagram with the caption, “me and my deputy dogg.”
And both men went on with their lives until Spears received a reprimand from his superiors, stating he had “deficiencies indicating need for counseling.”
The reprimand, which you can read here, stated that because he willingly posed with a “public figure who has a well-known criminal background including numerous drug charges,” it reflected “poorly on the agency.”
Obviously, Spears was expected to take the usual police approach by confiscating the camera and arresting the photographer with bonus points for tasering and beating him.
Attorney Ty Clevenger also posted a detailed article on his blog, which is now generating a fair share of national media attention.
As explained in my letter to DPS Director Steven McCraw, as well as my letter to state and federal prosecutors, the disciplinary counseling appears to be the latest act of retaliation against Billy since he reported misconduct by an officer from another agency last year. According to multiple witnesses, Sgt. Marcus Stokke of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission detained Billy without probable cause while Billy was off duty. 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.
Billy 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. What a farce.
As I wrote in my letter to the prosecutors, Billy gave consistent testimony corroborated by multiple witnesses, whereas Sgt. Stokke gave conflicting accounts of his reason for detaining Billy, yet DPS ultimately suspended Billy. He appealed the suspension, but it was affirmed at every level up to the chief of the highway patrol. Finally, on January 23, 2015, Director McCraw reversed the suspension, but two months later DPS brought the new disciplinary charge against him. I don’t think that is a coincidence.
Snoop Dogg, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, was arrested several times in the 1990s on drugs and weapons charges, serving time in prison, and has always been open about his marijuana habit. But he also has a marijuana prescription from California where he lives.
He was last arrested in 2010 in Texas of all places for misdemeanor possession of marijuana where it is still illegal.
However, at the age of 43, he seems to have mellowed from his younger, felonious days and was the keynote speaker at the SXSW conference, which is where he came across Spears and asked to take a photo.
UPDATE: The; story is being discussed on Police One, a Facebook page for police officers where at least three cops have posted photos of themselves with the rapper, daring their superiors to reprimand them while getting criticized by fellow cops.
And here is a video interview of Snoop Dogg by Forbes during the SXSW conference.