Texas State Trooper Billy Spears with Snoop Dogg
By Davy V.
Last year, Texas State Trooper Billy Spears filed a misconduct complaint against Sgt. Markus Stokke of the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission (TABC) after Stokke detained the off duty Trooper without probable cause.
But as Spears found out, when a police officer crosses that thin blue line, there'll be hell to pay.
Fast forward to last month.
South by Southwest Music and Film Festival.
Hip Hop Legend Snoop Dogg, the keynote speaker for the 2015 SXSW Festival, sees Texas State Trooper Billy Spears and asks him to take a photo with him.
Trooper Spears obliges.
Snoop's publicist takes the photo, and within minutes, Snoop posts the photo on his Instagram, and blasts it to his 4.5 Million followers with the caption: "Me n my deputy dogg"
Ok, back to Trooper Spears.
It seems as though his fellow law enforcement boys didn't appreciate that Trooper Billy Spears posed for a photo with Snoop Dee-O-Double G.
Either that, or they were just waiting to get back at Spears for his having filed a complaint against an overzealous Sgt. Stokke.
You see, the Texas State Police has reprimanded Trooper Spears for the photo.
According to Texas State Police, they felt that by Spears posing for a photo with "a known criminal" Spears has "Defincincies indicating need for counseling."
The Texas State Police official reprimand of Trooper Spears reads:
"While working a secondary job, Trooper Spearsctook a photo with a public figure who has a well known criminal background including numerous drug charges."
It goes on to read:
"The public figure posted the photo on social media and it reflects poorly on the Agency."
Personally, I see no harm in Trooper Spears taking a photo with a music legend like Snoop Dogg.
Especially being that technically, Trooper Spears was off duty.
What I find extremely disturbing here is the retaliation on behalf of the Texas State Police against Trooper Spears for his complaint against a fellow cop.
It shows just how deep that whole "thin blue line" thing is.
This Snoop Dogg photo reminds me of an interesting experience I had in 2013 while visiting my adopted hometown of Miami, Florida.
As I turned a corner in a rented Dodge Charger, I accidentally burned a little rubber.
I was pulled over by Coral Gables Florida Police officers.
Of course it didn't help that my rental stood out like a sore thumb with New York plates.
Coral Gables Police officers Ober and Fernandez recognized me, and after letting me off with a "be careful with the lead foot" warning, asked if they could take a photo with me.
Here it is.
Photo of me with Coral Gables, Florida Police officers Fernandez (left) and Ober.
PLEASE SUPPORT MY FILM "A PROMISE TO MY DAD"
That's me on the right with my dad Mario Vara, and Judge Provenzano
when my dad became a U.S. citizen.
For the past 20 years my work has centered around exposing police misconduct and corruption.
Most recently, I exposed an Irondequoit, NY Police Detective, Jim Frascati, for posting disturbing racist posts on social media against African-Americans and Mexicans.
As a result of my exposing Detective Frascati right here on this blog, he was fired, and a 911 Deputy Director was suspended without pay after he also posted racist comments on Detective Frascati's original post.
As an activist, my goal is to put a spotlight on incidents which mainstream news media often ignores.
So why do I do this, you may ask?
Well, my story begins as the son of a Cuban immigrant, who left his homeland in search of a better life for his family.
And it's that story, my Dad's story, which I want to tell through my film, "A Promise to My Dad."
But I can't do it alone.
I need your help.
'A Promise To My Dad' is a documentary film about a promise I made to my father at his wake, after my father committed suicide.
The short film explores the life of my dad, Mario Vara as he leaves Cuba with my mom and older brother in 1968, in search of freedom and a better life for our family.
After moving the family to Rochester, NY, my father realizes that despite the promises of freedom and liberty that a life in America can bring, the harsh reality is that there are many injustices as well.
In fact, my dad would soon face very similar 'police state' tactics, as the ones he escaped his homeland for in the first place.
"A Promise to My Dad" highlights an incident in the 1980's, when Rochester Police officers Mark Mariano and Randall Benjamin kicked down the family's door, illegally entering our home, terrorizing me and my family at gunpoint.
As a result of that incident, my dad becomes outspoken against police abuse and misconduct.
Unlike many Americans who take their rights for granted, my dad took a stand to denounce law enforcement violating U.S. citizen's civil rights.
Having lived a communist dictatorship, my dad knew all too well what it was like to live in a totalitarian police state, where simply expressing one's dislike for Castro and his government could land you in prison.
My dad was passionate in his denouncement of rogue cops abusing and violating citizen's civil rights in the U.S.
As a teen, I would tag along with my dad accompanying him to community meetings, rallies, and marches where he, along with other citizens demanded accountability from those whose job is to serve and protect, as well as the elected officials whose job it is to keep them in check.
'A Promise To My Dad' features me telling my dad's story, including talking about my father's depression and how it led to him committing suicide in 1993, after the Rochester, NY Police Department targeted my father through a series of selective harassment and intimidation tactics.
'A Promise to My Dad' follows me as I struggle to keep the promise I made to my dad, to continue his work against police misconduct and corruption, while at the same time trying to find my own identity as a young man, then as a father myself.
Throughout the film I will talk about my own struggles with depression, my father's suicide, and the effects that my work has brought to me and my family, including my children being stalked and receiving death threats.
One example of this came in August of 2014, when an ex-con who is known to work with Rochester Police as a paid confidential informant (C.I.) was captured on a store's surveillance video threatening to murder, and decapitate my 5-year old daughter.
Despite the video clearly showing the individual threatening to kill and decapitate an innocent child, Rochester Police and the Monroe County, NY District Attorney's office, including D.A. Sandra Doorley, refused to charge the individual.
Please support my film "A Promise to My Dad" by making a donation.
Making a donation is easy.
Just click on the link below which will take you to my blog.
Once there, click on the 'Donate' icon located at the top right of the page and follow the easy steps.
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