Hospital claims it's not responsible for death of Yosif Al-Hasnawi

The hospital where a 19-year-old man described as a “Good Samaritan” was treated after he was shot in December says it was not responsible for the man’s death.

St. Joe's: Despite 'heroic measures' taken by doctors and staff, 19-year-old man died soon after arrival

The hospital where Yosif Al-Hasnawi was treated after he was shot in December claims in a court filing that it is not responsible for his death. (Terry Asma/CBC)

The hospital where a 19-year-old man described as a "Good Samaritan" was treated after he was shot in December says it was not responsible for the man's death.

St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton says in a statement of defence filed in a Hamilton court that "notwithstanding heroic measures" taken by doctors and St. Joe's staff, attempts to resuscitate Yosif Al-Hasnawi were not successful.

Al-Hasnawi was shot on Dec. 2 near his Hamilton mosque. It took paramedics 38 minutes from the time they arrived to transport him to hospital. He was pronounced dead 19 minutes after he got to hospital.

Firas Al Najim, human rights activist and Yosif Al-Hasnawi's younger brother, Ahmed Al-Hasnawi hold a photo of Yosif Al-Hasnawi at a memorial at Hamilton city hall. (Laura Clementson/CBC)

Witnesses at the scene say paramedics told him he was acting, and that he'd been shot by a pellet gun.

Niagara Regional Police and the province are investigating. His family sued paramedics, police, St. Joe's and the two accused in his killing last month.

St. Joe's is the first defendant to file a statement of defence in court. A representative for the city of Hamilton was not immediately available for comment Tuesday morning but the city previously said it was cooperating with ongoing investigations into the incident.

Police declined to comment on ongoing legal matters. The province's Special Investigations Unit — an arm's length agency that investigates events involving police that have resulted in death, serious injury, or reports of sexual assault — says it's still looking into whether to invoke its mandate.

The city is operating under a waiver of defence, which means it has an extended period of time to file a statement of defence.

Yosif Al-Haswani recites the Qur'an during a religious ceremony moments before he got into an altercation outside the Al-Mustafa Islamic Centre, and was shot and killed. (Al-Mustafa Islamic Centre)

The family's lawsuit says paramedics didn't properly treat Al-Hasnawi at the scene, didn't provide first aid, and didn't put him in the ambulance fast enough. 

It also says they didn't properly relay information to St. Joseph's Healthcare. Al-Hasnawi was taken to St. Joe's, rather than the regional trauma centre at Hamilton General Hospital, which was closer. 

Also in the filing, St. Joseph's claims the other defendants – including police and paramedics – are responsible for any negligence or judgments of liability.

'Mental and emotional distress'

The plaintiffs — Al-Hasnawi's father Majed, and his teen brothers Madhi, 15, and Ahmed, 13 — say the actions of emergency responders that night have caused them loss of income, nightmares, anxiety, "extreme mental and emotional distress" and the loss of his companionship.

Investigators were on scene at a convenience store in central Hamilton in December after a 19-year-old man was fatally shot. (Andrew Collins)

Yosif Al-Hasnawi was participating in a religious celebration at the Al-Moustafa Islamic Centre on Main Street East on Dec. 2 when, around 9 p.m., ET he walked outside with his younger brother.

He saw two men "accosting" an older man, police say. He intervened, and that turned the culprits' attention to Al-Hasnawi.

The situation moved roughly half a block east, to Sanford Avenue, where Al-Hasnawi was shot, police say.

Dale Burningsky King, 19, faces second-degree murder charges. James Matheson, 20, is charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact. Both are also named in the lawsuit.

The suit, filed by Toronto lawyer Susan von Achten, also lists unnamed EMS crew members and police constables.

With files from Samantha Craggs