A Texas Department of Public Safety officer has been reprimanded and ordered to undergo counseling for posing in a photo with rapper Snoop Dogg during last month’s South by Southwest music festival in Austin, TX.
Officer Billy Spears, who is based out of Gilmer, was called to Austin two weeks ago to help work with security for the event. While in a secured area, Snoop encountered Spears and asked if the two could take a photo together.
The rapper then posted the image online:
— Dallas Morning News (@dallasnews) April 2, 2015
“Me n my deputy dogg,” Snoop said.
The Dallas Morning News reports DPS officials saw the post and immediately cited Spears for deficiencies that require counseling for associating with a known criminal.
Snoop Dogg, legally named Calvin Broadus, has been convicted multiple times of drug possession and even faced a murder charge in 1993 after his bodyguard shot and killed an alleged rival gang member. Both Snoop and his bodyguard were later acquitted.
Spears’ reprimand for counseling read: “While working a secondary employment job, Trooper Spears took a photo with a public figure who has a well-known criminal background including numerous drug charges. The public figure posted the photo on social media and it reflects poorly on the Agency.”
Officer Spears’ Attorney, Ty Clevenger, has maintained his client had no knowledge of the rapper’s past drug convictions, and merely recognized him as a public figure and gave consent for a photograph.
“Troopers get called down to work these events all the time and sometimes people want a picture with them,” Clevenger told the Morning News.
The attorney then told the paper he believes the action against Spears is a retaliatory action against his client, because the trooper reported an Alcoholic Beverage Commission officer last year for “unprofessional conduct.”
Because the formal action against Spears only called for counseling and was not considered a formal disciplinary action, the officer cannot appeal the decision.
The attorney has written a letter asking DPS director Steven McCraw to intervene. “This is not in their policy. They’re making this stuff up as they go,” he said.
The department has yet to release a statement.