Trial begins for Hamilton paramedics charged in treatment of teen who later died

·3 min read

It's a scene of chaos and confusion shown in court only in a distant black-and-white video now — one where a father was frantic, an officer was trying to control the crowd, and 19-year-old Yosif Al-Hasnawi lay dying.

Members of a Hamilton courtroom pored over the surveillance video from Sanford Avenue South on Tuesday. They were trying to parse the actions of two former paramedics, Christopher Marchant and Steven Snively, who are part of a landmark trial.

Snively, 55, and Marchant, 32, are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life in connection to Al-Hasnawi's death. Al-Hasnawi was shot with a hollow-point bullet from a .22-caliber handgun at 8:55 p.m. on Dec. 2, 2017.

But even as he bled to death on the sidewalk, the Crown says, the paramedics thought he'd been shot with a BB gun. And they refused to budge from that assumption, said Crown attorney Linda Shin.

In one recording, she said, Marchant even said Al-Hasnawi was "acting like a dickhead."

"Their incorrect belief and assumption that the call and Mr. Al-Hasnawi's condition was not serious could not be shaken, no matter the facts that they found on the ground," Shin told Justice Harrison Arrell.

"They failed to alter their assumptions because they chose to completely dismiss and not consider certain facts. They chose to mold all the facts they accepted to their assumptions."

The testimony on Tuesday — the first of the five-week superior court trial — focused on Const. Christopher Campovari of Hamilton Police Service. He and Const. Michael Zezella arrived on scene four minutes after Al-Hasnawi was shot.

Taken to hospital 23 minutes later

They heard via dispatch that Al-Hasnawi might have been shot with a BB gun, Campovari said, but they weren't sure.

Campovari found Al-Hasnawi on the sidewalk, conscious but unable to speak. Al-Hasnawi's wound looked small, a bit "like a bruise," Campovari testified. He didn't appear to be bleeding.

Inside, he was. The bullet punctured Al-Hasnawi's right iliac artery and vein, causing "massive internal bleeding," says the agreed statement of facts. Paramedics arrived at 9:09 p.m. and transported him to St. Joseph's Hospital at 9:32 p.m., the court heard.

Al-Hasnawi was pronounced dead at 9:58 p.m.

Campovari said his focus was crowd control and getting more information, including where the suspects went. He didn't really see what the paramedics were doing, he said. He was busy with a "chaotic" scene that included Al-Hasnawi's dad, Majed Al-Hasnawi, who was growing frantic that paramedics weren't taking his son to the hospital.

Dad will testify

Campovari said he told Majed Al-Hasnawi that it was ambulance #2036.

"I told him the bus number (the number of the ambulance), and if he had a complaint, we could deal with that later," Campovari recalled.

Jeffrey Manishen of Hamilton is representing Marchant, and Michael DelGobbo of St. Catharines is representing Snively.

The trial is in superior court and Arrell alone will render a verdict. Witnesses will include experts in subjects such as emergency medicine and toxicology, as well as people who were there that night.

Majed Al-Hasnawi is expected to testify on Monday.

The person who shot Al-Hasnawi, Dale King, was acquitted last year of second-degree murder. That case is being appealed.