A witness who came to the aid of Yosif Al-Hasnawi says the 19-year-old uttered “is this how I’m going to die?” moments after a shooting in Central Hamilton in 2017.
Witness Mustafa Ameer, who went to the same high school and mosque as Al-Hasnawi, took to the stand at the John Sopinka Courthouse in Hamilton as a witness on Tuesday.
The then-15-year-old was on scene the night two former Hamilton paramedics, Christopher Marchant and Steven Snively, believed Al-Hasnawi had a wound from a BB gun which later turned out to be fatal damage from a .22 calibre gun.
The two paramedics are now charged with failing to provide the necessities of life.
During his testimony on Tuesday, Ameer told the court he was with his twin brother Haider, Yosif and Yousif’s brother Ahmed when they encountered a pair of men allegedly harassing an older man near Sanford Avenue and Main Street East on Dec. 2, 2017.
He told council that the two men, one with a bald or shaved head and the other with dark hair, approached the group after Al-Hasnawi shouted at them demanding they “leave the old man alone.”
Ameer said the two men crossed the street and got “pretty close” to the group.
“They spoke first, something like, ‘Don’t mess with us, we have a gun,'” Ameer told the court.
He said he saw the gun when the man with the dark hair pulled up his sweater and showed the “silver-coloured” firearm in his right waistband.
After that, he said the man with the shaved head “sucker-punched” Yosif in the back of the head.
“He kind of staggered a bit and then they ran off,” said Ameer.
After Al-Hasnawi began to pursue the men, Ameer remembers agreeing with Yosif’s brother Ahmed that “they have to bring him back.”
The pair then chased after Al-Hasnawi to a parking lot out front of a convenience store at the corner of Sanford and Main.
He then said he saw the man with the dark hair turn around and shoot Yosif.
“He kind of looked like he was going to fall down, so I helped them to the ground, to the sidewalk and he just laid there,” said Ameer.
Ameer recalled three paramedics the night of the shooting, an “old man,” a “lady” and another man in his mid-20s.
He remembered the older paramedic asking him if Yosif smoked or was under the influence. Ameer told him “no.”
He told Crown prosecutor Scott Patterson that the conversation he remembered about what was used to shoot Al-Hasnawi was between police officers and paramedics.
“The police told the paramedics that it was a BB gun or a firecracker, and then the paramedics believed the police,” Ameer said.
Further along in questioning from the Crown, Ameer alleges the paramedics “just didn’t believe he was in serious condition” and said the paramedic uttered the words “this guy can get nominated for an Oscars.”
During a cross-examination with Michael DelGobbo, who represents Snively, Ameer admitted he did not see the gun or a flash when it was allegedly fired at Al-Hasnawi. He also told DelGobbo that he remembers a number of bystanders telling police the weapon used was a BB gun.
Jeffrey Manishen, who represents Marchant, asked Ameer if he had ever seen Al-Hasnawi in a confrontation with strangers. Ameer said, “I haven’t really seen anything like that in general.”
When Manishen addressed the paramedics alleged ‘Oscars’ comment, Ameer said “100 per cent he said that” and denied the suggestion that it came from a police officer.
Justice Harrison Arrell is expected to hear from three more witnesses on Wednesday, a firefighter and two bystanders.
Dr. Elena Bulakhtina, who performed Al-Hasnawi’s autopsy, and a manager with the dispatch centre are scheduled to testify on Thursday.
The judge-only trial is expected to finish in early 2021 with a break between Christmas and the new year.
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