AUSTIN, Texas - A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper said he was disciplined because he posed for a picture with rapper Snoop Dogg.
DPS Trooper Billy Spears was working extra duty at SXSW when rapper Snoop Dogg asked to take a picture with him. After a quick snap of the camera, the picture was posted on Snoop's Instagram account with the caption, "Me n my deputy dogg."
"After that it got to the lieutenant colonel of DPS and the assistant director. Apparently, they sent Billy down for counsel, as they called it, so he was served with papers saying essentially he was being chastised for it," said Attorney Ty Clevenger who is representing Spears.
Clevenger said DPS officials cited Spears because he took a picture with a known criminal. Snoop Dogg, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, has been charged for possession of marijuana and was acquitted of murder in 1996.
"[Spears] didn't know about his criminal history. He knew the guy had been in movies as a rapper, but that's all he knew," said Clevenger.
After looking through Snoop's Instagram pictures, FOX 7 found a picture of him posing with an Austin police officer. APD, however, said that officer will not be punished.
"Every other cop I've talked to has said the same thing, 'What's the big deal?' Billy, in years past, has had his picture taken with Robert Duvall and other celebrities. What if he had his picture made with Martha Stewart? She's a felon. Would that be a problem? Would he be written up for that?" said Clevenger.
DPS released this statement regarding the Spears incident: "DPS does not typically discuss or release specifics of personnel issues unless they result in disciplinary action as outlined in Government Code[s]. Supervisors counsel and coach employees on a regular basis, and these efforts do not constitute formal discipline by the department."
"Well, it's in his personnel file. It's permanent. It can count against him for advancement and promotion and I know DPS said it's not discipline, but it is discipline," said Clevenger.
When asked about taking pictures with the public, a DPS trooper at the Texas State Capitol said the decision is based on personal preference, not policy.
"There is no such policy whatsoever and that's the problem. They know they can't get him on policy violation so they just make this stuff up as they go," said Clevenger.
Clevenger said DPS officials are just blowing smoke and Spears has a target on his back because he turned in another officer last year. Clevenger hopes by bringing Spears' story to the public, DPS will see the bigger picture.