The younger brother of 19-year-old Yosif Al-Hasnawi took the witness stand on day four of the trial for two paramedics who are accused of not doing enough to save his life.
Mahdi Al-Hasnawi was 15 years old when his older brother died from a gunshot wound nearly three years ago in the area of Main Street East and Sanford Avenue South.
Former Hamilton paramedics Steven Snively and Christopher Marchant are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life on the night of Dec. 2, 2017, when they arrived at the scene to take Al-Hasnawi to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he later died.
On Tuesday, the court heard that the younger Al-Hasnawi had gone to the mosque that night with Yosif and their father, where the 19-year-old did a reading from the Qur’an.
After the reading, Mahdi said his older brother asked him to go outside with him, but the younger teen refused.
A short while later, the youngest Al-Hasnawi sibling, Ahmed, came up to Mahdi and whispered in his ear, “Yosif got shot”.
The pair went outside, around the corner from the mosque, where they found Yosif lying on the ground next to two police officers, court heard.
When Al-Hasnawi tried to go toward his older brother, he said he was stopped by one of the officers, who put a hand on his chest and stopped him from approaching, saying “I know you’re panicking,” “I know you’re scared” and “he’ll be okay”.
He said he went to his brother’s side anyway and knelt next to him, and when he asked how Yosif was, he mumbled, “I can’t breathe.”
Crown counsel Scott Patterson asked Al-Hasnawi how he felt at that moment, and he replied, “I don’t think there’s a way to describe how I felt.”
Al-Hasnawi said he told the officers what Yosif said about not being able to breathe, but was told by one of them: “He’s faking it.”
When Al-Hasnawi looked at his brother’s wound, he said he could see a hole on the right side of his stomach, with blood on his stomach and his hoodie.
He told the court that he went back to the mosque to tell his father what had happened. When they both went back to the scene, he said, the paramedics had arrived.
Al-Hasnawi said he recalled seeing “three or four” paramedics near his brother, including one who was “buffer” and one who was “older.”
When he went to his brother’s side again, Al-Hasnawi said that he wasn’t moving as much and wasn’t responsive, and that there were people gathered nearby who were acknowledging that the older teen had said he couldn’t breathe.
At one point, Al-Hasnawi said someone who was either a police officer or a paramedic was pressing down on his wound.
It was around that time that Al-Hasnawi recalled one of the paramedics said, “he should win an Oscar for how good he was acting,” although he couldn’t determine which one made the comment.
Al-Hasnawi told the court how he eventually picked up his brother because “the paramedics weren’t doing their job.”
He said he was struggling to put the elder Al-Hasnawi onto the stretcher, at which point two paramedics came over to help.
Once Yosif was on the stretcher, one of his legs apparently slid off and hit the younger paramedic, and Al-Hasnawi said the paramedic responded by saying, “don’t touch me,” throwing his leg back onto the stretcher.
“Nothing about that was right,” Al-Hasnawi said.
He also recalled seeing Yosif’s arm slide off the stretcher, with one of the paramedics tossing it back onto the stretcher.
Al-Hasnawi said he tried to get onto the ambulance with paramedics, but was told he couldn’t join them, adding that he remembered them staying there for about 15 minutes.
“That was the last I saw him,” he said.
When the defence questioned Al-Hasnawi, lawyer Jeff Manishen asked whether there might be discrepancies in his memory due to the period of time that’s passed between the trial and the events of the night of Dec. 2, 2017, on what he described as “the worst night” of his life.
Al-Hasnawi replied, “Everything that I’ve remembered, I’ve remembered it the same way. Nothing was really off.”
Manishen referenced Al-Hasnawi’s previous testimony and statements to investigators during interviews in 2018, citing variances between what he said in those interviews and what he said during testimony on Tuesday.
“On a night like that night, it was pretty hard to remember things like that,” Al-Hasnawi said.
He insisted it was paramedics who made the comment about winning an Oscar, although Manishen suggested it may have been a police officer who made that comment.
Majed Al-Hasnawi, father to Yosif and Mahdi, also finished his testimony on Tuesday.
On day three of the trial, the senior Al-Hasnawi alleged that one of the paramedics told him to tell his son to “stop acting.”
During the cross-examination, Manishen showed video footage of the scene that conflicted with testimony that Majed Al-Hasnawi delivered from memory the day before.
Court also heard from Steve Ryan, a Hamiltonian who lived nearby and called 911 from a convenience store in the area after he saw a “number of individuals” run by and heard a loud bang when leaving the store.
Ryan described Yosif Al-Hasnawi as being “distraught” and “in a lot of pain” when he saw him on the sidewalk, a short time after he had called 911.
When Patterson showed video footage from the scene, Ryan recalled hearing some people among those gathered saying they believed Al-Hasnawi was “acting” in regards to his injuries.
“It was kind of disgusting, really, because a couple of people kind of chuckled about it,” Ryan said. “It was ridiculous.”
Initially, he couldn’t pinpoint exactly who had said Al-Hasnawi was acting — just that it was someone among the crowd that had gathered in the area.
After reading a transcript from the trial for the man accused of shooting Al-Hasnawi, Ryan — who had testified in that trial — recalled that it was the paramedics who had “chuckled” at the idea of a pellet gun being involved in the incident.
Ryan was then questioned by the defence, who said that his original witness statement mentioned that he believed a pellet gun had been involved in the original incident.
He said he’d heard people talking about a pellet gun, but said there was “no way” that it could have been a pellet gun due to the volume of the sound that he’d heard.
“To tell you the God’s honest truth, it was like a ridiculous amount of time that it was taken (for) that young man to be transported to the hospital,” Ryan said. “Regardless if it was a gunshot, a stabbing, whatever — he should have been transported immediately.”
Day six of the trial will resume on Wednesday morning at the John Sopinka Courthouse in Hamilton.
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