An attorney for a Texas state trooper who took a photo with Snoop Dogg told an appellate panel that the officer’s superiors unfairly retaliated against him for posing with a rapper they saw as a “weed-smoking cop-hater.”
NEW ORLEANS (CN) — A Texas police officer who claims he was wrongly retaliated against for taking a photograph with rapper Snoop Dogg while working off-duty security at a music festival argued his case before a Fifth Circuit panel Tuesday.
Bill Spears, a state trooper with the Texas Department of Public Safety, was working backstage as a security guard for a company with permission from DPS at South by Southwest in Austin in 2015 when he was approached by an assistant to Calvin Broadus aka Snoop Dogg, who asked if the iconic rapper could take a photo standing beside Spears, according to a lawsuit the officer filed in Travis County District Court.
“Trooper Spears agreed, and the Doggfather’s assistant later posted the photograph to Instagram with the caption ‘Me n my deputy dogg,’” the complaint states.
Spears’ superiors caught wind of the photo and were dismayed that he would have his photo taken with a “weed-smoking cop-hater,” Spears’ attorney Ty Clevenger told a panel of Fifth Circuit judges Tuesday.
The trooper was notified that he would be written up for the photo in what the DPS refers to as a “counseling record,” according to the lawsuit. At the time of the Snoop Dogg incident, Spears had recently received another counseling record after he was arrested on a charge of impersonating a police officer when, during a concert he was attending in his free time and wearing plain clothes, he got into an altercation with an on-duty police officer over whether Spears could carry his alcoholic beverage past a certain area.
Spears hired Clevenger, an attorney in Lavon, Texas, who sent a letter to DPS leadership asking them to remove the counseling records from his client’s file and end the retaliation. The attorney posted the letter to his blog with the headline “Texas DPS director calls Snoop Dogg a ‘dope smoking cop hater,'” which caught the attention of The Dallas Morning News. The newspaper published a story titled “DPS trooper required to get counseling for posing with Snoop Dogg” and the incident went viral.
The story “quickly spread nationally and internationally and was published as far away as India, Africa, and Australia,” Spears’ complaint states. “Despite the nearly universal consensus that DPS’s senior commanders were making fools of themselves and embarrassing the entire state, Defendant [DPS Director Steven] McCraw refused to reign in the misconduct within his agency.”
The lawsuit went on to say that DPS officials suggested Spears’ counseling record was not really discipline in a press release in April 2015.
“That press release was duplicitous and disingenuous,” the complaint states. “DPS policy requires troopers to disclose all disciplinary incidents tot heir local district attorneys, and that policy further states that ‘counseling’ is among the disciplinary incidents that must be disclosed to prosecutors.”
Spears alleges his superiors at DPS continued to retaliate against him after the filing of another lawsuit in 2017, including by going into his medical record and forging his signature on documents to make it appear he had not filed paperwork for a medical leave of absence in a timely manner.
Spears has been undeterred by the alleged harassment and remains an employee with DPS, though his attorney said he fears further retaliation and wants the Counseling Records and other things removed from his file.
A federal judge in Austin dismissed Spears’ case in August 2019, finding no constitutional violation to support a conspiracy claim. That decision prompted the May 2020 appeal to the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit.
Clevenger told the three-judge panel Tuesday that DPS officials were scheming to fire his client.
“They tried to frame him,” the attorney said during the 30-minute hearing. “No reasonable police supervisor would have thought that was constitutional.”
Attorney Benjamin Mendelson, who represents the DPS defendants, countered that Spears is alleging a “speculative injury” only.
“If the employee can continue with the same activities, then it isn’t necessarily retaliation,” Mendelson said of the trooper’s retaliation claim.
The panel was comprised of U.S. Circuit Judges Patrick Higginbotham, Leslie Southwick and Kurt Engelhardt, appointed by Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, respectively. The judges did not indicate how or when they will rule on the matter.
Comments: A Reprimand entered in his "Contact Log" usually stays there. I hope he has it removed.
Posted by USMC66'- at 4/28/2021 4:06:57 PM
The majority of celebrity's are idiots. Myself, I wouldn't give them a second glance if I spotted one.