Brother says paramedics on trial didn't do their job the night Yosif Al-Hasnawi died

·7 min read

Almost exactly three years have passed since the night Mahdi Al-Hasnawi stepped out of a crowd to lift his dying, big brother off the sidewalk.

He tried to bring him to the stretcher, he said, "cause the paramedics weren't doing their job."

In a landmark case, former Hamilton paramedics Christopher Marchant, 32, and Steven Snively, 55, are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life for 19-year-old Yosif Al-Hasnawi.

On the night of Dec. 2, 2017, the teen was shot with a .22-calibre hollow point bullet. The paramedics thought it was a BB gun, the court has heard.

Mahdi Al-Hasnawi, who testified on Tuesday, was 15-years-old back then. He spent that last day with his brother at the mall with a friend, and went to the Main Street E. mosque that night.

Al-Hasnawi said his older brother asked him to go outside, but he said no. Later, his other brother Ahmed came and found him.

"He came inside kind of panicked, and whispered in my ear, 'Yosif got shot,'" he said.

'Faking it'

Al-Hasnawi found his brother down the street, lying on his back. When he tried to go near him, one of the two police officers who were there put a hand on his chest to stop him.

"I know you're panicked and I know you're scared," Al-Hasnawi remembered the officer said. He said they told him, "he'll be okay."

When Al-Hasnawi asked his older brother, "are you good?" the teenager mumbled back, "I can't breathe."

Al-Hasnawi said he told the officer this, but they repeated he'd be okay.

He also remembers them saying that Yosif was "faking it." He didn't say anything back "because they convinced me that he was fine."

Patterson asked how it felt to see his brother in that moment.

"Not good. I don't think there's a way to describe what I felt," Al-Hasnawi said.

He said he saw a hole on his brother's stomach, which had dried, brown blood.

Mahdi ran to the mosque to get their father, Majed. The defence finished their cross-examination of him earlier on Tuesday.

'He should win an Oscar'

He went straight to Yosif when he came back. His brother wasn't responding as much as before and was blinking a lot, he said. People in the crowd that gathered were aware he couldn't breathe, Al-Hasnawi said, but there wasn't a paramedic attending to him.

"They were going around asking questions like they were the cops or something," he said.

When a paramedic did examine Yosif, he used two fingers and pressed down on the wound for about 30 seconds.

He remembers one of the paramedics said, "he should win an Oscar for how good he was acting."

Brother recalls paramedic saying, 'don't touch me'

Footage of the scene shows that an officer and paramedic tried to lift Yosif by the arms, but couldn't do it. Al-Hasnawi stepped in and put his arms under his brother, even though he was older, bigger and heavier.

In the video, a group assists him, but Al-Hasnawi doesn't remember that. Jeffrey Manishen, who represents Marchant, told Al-Hasnawi that he didn't have to watch that footage, and council could describe it to him.

But Al-Hasnawi told him, "play the video."

He remembered struggling to get him on the stretcher, and said that's when the paramedics helped.

But when one of Yosif's legs came of the stretcher and touched the paramedic, Al-Hasnawi said they replied, 'Don't touch me,' and threw his leg back on.

It definitely didn't hit the paramedic hard, he said. It also happened again with an arm.

"I don't think someone who's dying can do much damage to someone who's perfectly fine," he said.

Al-Hasnawi also said that "the officers were a lot nicer than the paramedics." Even though they said Yosif was faking, Al-Hasnawi remembers them eventually treating it more seriously than the paramedics.

The paramedics went into the ambulance with Yosif. Al-Hasnawi tried to join his brother, but they told him no, he said. The ambulance stayed for around 15 minutes, he remembered.

The teen was pronounced dead at St. Joseph's Hospital at 9:58 p.m.

Defence questions memory

In their cross-examination, the defence compared Al-Hasnawi's responses on Tuesday with those made in a February 2018 interview with Niagara Regional Police and paramedic one in May 2018.

Manishen said Al-Hasnawi had to check some details by reading these in court. He suggested that his memory "might be incomplete" because he didn't mention that the paramedic checked his brother's wound in one interview.

"Everything that I've remembered, I've remembered it the same way," Al-Hasnawi said. He just would have forgotten to talk about those 30 seconds, he said.

Manishen asked whether Al-Hasnawi remembered his brother "thrashing" on the stretcher. He spoke about the paramedic moving Yosif's limbs, and each time the younger brother corrected him by saying the paramedic "threw" them.

"I don't know what he was doing with his leg, but a paramedic shouldn't do that to a dying person," Al-Hasnawi said.

Michael DelGobbo, who represents Snively, asked if someone directed him to lift his big brother, specifically the father. Al-Hasnawi said no one did, and commented that he shouldn't have done it and that it was the paramedic's job.

'Please help me'

Steve Ryan, who called 911 at a nearby convenience store that night and said he heard a gun shot, also took the stand. He remembered seeing people running, followed by a loud bang like a "firecracker."

He said a boy with red hair was telling everyone that night that his brother had been shot. He was saying it "continuously, pleading with the paramedics." Yosif Al-Hasnawi was on the ground, saying "please help me."

Ryan said he heard someone say the teen might be "faking," and said it was "disgusting" because paramedics were chuckling.

Ryan testified in the trial of the person who shot Al-Hasnawi, Dale King. He was acquitted last year of second-degree murder, and that case is being appealed. He read this transcript to refresh his memory.

Both defence lawyers questioned why he told police in a 2017 interview that he didn't think it was a gun shot, and might have been a pellet gun. Ryan said he heard those words from the crowd, and they must have stuck in his mind.

But the crack was too loud to be a pellet gun, he said.

Regardless of whether it was a gun shot or even a stabbing, Al-Hasnawi should've been transported to hospital immediately, Ryan said, and he wasn't.

Father cross-examined

When he completed his cross-examination, Manishen showed the father, Majed Al-Hasnawi a video of the scene, which contradicted some of his memories from that night.

Among the things that differed, he remembered his son on the ground for 20 to 30 minutes. But it was over two minutes on the video his son was lifted up, and a couple minutes later, Manishen pointed to wheels that rolled by. Al-Hasnawi agreed it seemed to be a stretcher.

When Crown Scott Patterson re-examined the father, he noted the defence said on Monday that Al-Hasnawi never brought up the action where a paramedic pressed his son's knees into his own chest up in his 2017 interview with police.

Patterson read out a section of that transcript.

"Yes one arm, hanging him, then close his legs. And imagine when you cross legs, lifting legs, how much pressure will be here on stomach," Al-Hasnawi had told the detective. The father wasn't shown this section in court.

Mahdi Al-Hasnawi was also asked by the defence if he saw this pushing action.

"It was supposed to help him," he said, but couldn't remember who did it.

The court has heard that Yosif Al-Hasnawi was shot at 8:55 p.m. near Main Street East and Sanford Avenue South. The paramedics arrived at 9:09 p.m., and left for the hospital at 9:32 p.m.

The trial in Hamilton superior court is expected to last five weeks, and Justice Harrison Arrell will render a verdict.