Police name Hamilton paramedics charged in Good Samaritan case
Rachael D'Amore, CTV News Toronto
Published Thursday, August 2, 2018 2:23PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 2, 2018 7:00PM EDT
Investigators have named the Hamilton paramedics charged with failing to provide the necessities of life when responding to the shooting death of 19-year-old Yosif Al-Hasnawi last December.
Al-Hasnawi was shot to death on December 2, 2017 after intervening in a dispute between two young men and an older man, police said.
When paramedics arrived at the scene of the shooting they said they thought Al-Hasnawi was “acting,” his father said at the time.
Majed Hasnawi said the paramedics were laughing at the situation as his son was uttering the words “I cannot breathe.”
Another witness said the responding paramedics were handling Al-Hasnawi roughly, “like baggage.”
The teen was pronounced dead in hospital a short time after he was transported.
Immediately following the incident, Hamilton paramedics asked the provincial ministry of health to conduct an investigation into the matter.
On December 27, 2017, Hamilton police said they asked Niagara Regional Police Service to conduct a criminal investigation into the emergency medical care provided to the teen at the scene of the fatal shooting.
Niagara Regional Police say that on Wednesday, 53-year-old Steven Snively of Hamilton was arrested.
On Thursday, 29-year-old Christopher Marchant of Whitby was arrested.
Both men were released on a promise to appear in Hamilton court on Sept. 11 at 9 a.m. Both have been on paid administrative leave, their union said.
Niagara Regional Police Chief Bryan MacCulloch says police interviewed 60 witnesses as part of their investigation.
Acting Hamilton Paramedic Services Chief Russell Crocker said he is still conducting an internal review into the incident, but the criminal charges have put his service on edge.
“This is the first time in Ontario that this has happened,” he told CP24. “Our paramedics obviously are probably a little anxious at this point. We’ve made resources available to help them cope with that.”
The Hasnawi family is also suing Hamilton Paramedic Services, Hamilton police, and St. Joseph’s Hospital for $10 million.
A friend of the family told CTV News that they feel a sense of justice now that charges have been laid, but saidthe family is still concerned about the time it took for police to come to this decision.
“I understand they had a thorough investigation they had to work on but at the same time, there were statements from many people apart of the community, part of the family, bystanders and people in the neighbourhood who all said the same thing,” Firas Al-Najim said.
He later told CP24 he had spoken with Al-Hasnawi’s father about the charges being laid.
“He feels some type of justice – he’s seen what these paramedics did right in front of him and he witnessed his son’s death right in front of him.”
Al-Najim said the disregard first responders showed extended beyond what was first reported.
“The first police officer (on scene) said it was just a pellet gun wound. Also they were telling his father that he was on narcotics.”
The father reportedly told paramedics his son was a medical student and a boxer who didn’t use drugs.
Al-Najim said the family is disappointed that the union representing paramedics is siding with the pair who were charged.
“We are actually upset that the paramedic board would actually defend the paramedics when there are so many (witness) statements, not just from the family itself.”
OPSEU local 256 President Mario Posteraro, who escorted both defendants to the police station to turn themselves in to be charged, disputed the characterization of the incident and his members’ conduct that night.
“There was an assertion that there was a pellet gun involved,” Posteraro said, echoing what others had said of the initial response.
“Upon assessment and the patient’s condition, it wasn’t consistent, the paramedics felt, from a critical clinical perspective, that he had been shot with a .22 (caliber firearm.),” Posteraro said.
“In hindsight obviously, had they known, and had the patient presented differently, they definitely would have transported him to the lead trauma centre.”
Al-Hasnawi was eventually taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital, not Hamilton General, which is the city’s primary destination for victims of gunfire.
“St. Joe’s is a very capable trauma centre, it’s the backup trauma centre. St. Joe’s was notified of the paramedics coming in when the patient’s condition deteriorated, and unfortunately the outcome was not positive. But that doesn’t mean that a negative outcome should result in criminal charges,” Posteraro said.
He said the paramedics accused in this incident had great service records.
“These are two very competent, professional paramedics that function at a very high level. They are certified annually by the medical authority, and they received positive performance appraisals from our management.”
Posteraro said he is working to secure legal counsel for both men — paid for by the union — in time for their next court appearance next month.
Two men, Dale Buringsky King, 19, and James Anthony Robert Matheson, 20, have been charged in connection with the death of Al-Hasnawi. Both men are from Hamilton.
King has been charged with second-degree murder and Matheson has been charged with accessory after the fact.