South Australia’s police chief has defended his decision to terminate the employment of an officer who gave cannabis to a mentally distressed man in what a judge described as a “misguided act of kindness”.

Key points:

  • Tyson Schrapel yesterday faced court for giving cannabis to a man during a raid
  • SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said he had no option but to sack the officer
  • He said SA Police had a responsibility to uphold a strong stance against illicit drug supply

Former Port Augusta constable Tyson Schrapel yesterday faced court, but avoided conviction for giving cannabis to the known grower to calm him down during a firearms audit.

Schrapel, 25, was conducting the audit at the man’s house in February last year when the heavy user became distressed and started speaking about self-harm.

He asked the officer if he could smoke the cannabis.

Schrapel initially dismissed the idea, but felt sorry for the man and consented before a detective intervened.

The commissioner said the officer removed cannabis from an exhibit bag.(Robert Galbraith, file photo: Reuters)

A magistrate described the offending as a “misguided act of kindness” and imposed a $300 fine.

Schrapel’s employment was terminated after the incident, and SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens today defended that move, saying “it was a very difficult decision on my part”.

“This is a very sad set of affairs,” he said.

“Tyson made the decision to supply another person cannabis so that person could smoke that cannabis, so Tyson removed that cannabis from the exhibit bag and gave it to the person concerned.

Commissioner Stevens said Schrapel pleaded guilty to an offence under the Controlled Substances Act.

Commissioner Stevens said the officer made a “terrible decision”.(ABC News)

He said the man who received the cannabis was going to be detained under the Mental Health Act, but that “the suggestion that this was necessary to defuse a situation is not necessarily the case”.

He said while he “took all of the circumstances into account”, SA Police was required to uphold a “strong stance against the supply of illicit drugs”.

“We are given significant powers as police officers and our obligation is to use those powers wisely and this was a fundamental breach of his oath of office,” he said.

“This was a significant mistake. There are some mistakes you can’t come back from.”