Hamilton

Former Hamilton medic says he couldn't sleep after Yosif Al-Hasnawi died on his watch

Steven Snively says he had a hard time sleeping the night Yosif Al-Hasnawi died. But he went to work the next day because he didn't want Hamilton to have one less ambulance on the road.

Steven Snively says he was shocked and confused because he thought it was a mental health call

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)

Steven Snively says he had a hard time sleeping the night Yosif Al-Hasnawi died. But he went to work the next day because he didn't want Hamilton to have one less ambulance on the road.

That's also when he wrote his report about what happened the night before.

Snively is one of two former Hamilton paramedics on trial in superior court for how they treated Al-Hasnawi on Dec. 2, 2017. When they arrived at a sidewalk near Main and Sanford, they thought he'd been shot with a BB gun, the court has heard. They didn't leave for the hospital for 23 minutes.

In fact, Al-Hasnawi had been shot with a .22 caliber bullet. By the time he arrived at the hospital, nearly all the blood had drained from his heart.

Snively says he and codefendant Christopher Marchant gave the 19-year-old CPR at the hospital as emergency doctors tended to him. Snively said he was shocked and distraught when Marchant told him Al-Hasnawi was dead. 

"I was overwhelmed with an array of emotions," he told the court Friday. "I can't recall them all now, but it was shock. Disbelief. Doubt. There was just … uncertainty."

The idea of writing an incident report that night "just didn't come to mind," Snively said. 

Instead, he wrote it the next day, he told the court. He sat alone at a desk, he said, and wrote that Al-Hasnawi had "a soft tissue injury from a pellet gun." He also wrote that he thought it was primarily a mental health call.

He wrote the report, he told the court, in a "state of fatigue."

"Did you get any sleep the night before?" asked his lawyer, Michael DelGobbo.

"No, sir," Snively said.

As for why he didn't call in sick the next day, he said, "if I didn't show up, the service would have been down one truck."

Snively, 55, and Marchant, 32, are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life. It's a rare case, one that could hold first responders criminally accountable for how they treated a patient.

Some Crown witnesses said the pair laughed during the call, and said Al-Hasnawi should get an Oscar for his acting. The paramedics deny saying that.

In his testimony this week, Marchant said Al-Hasnawi was "uncooperative," and they thought it was a mental health call. That's why they took him to St. Joseph's Hospital rather than Hamilton General, a regional trauma centre.

The court has also heard that Marchant, in talking to a dispatcher, said Al-Hasnawi was "acting like a dickhead."

What happens next

Snively said he and Marchant, with the help of Sgt. Nesreen Shawihat from Hamilton Police Service, restrained Al-Hasnawi in the back of the ambulance. Al-Hasnawi's condition spiraled about a minute from the hospital, Snively recalled, and that's when he hit the sirens. 

The trial resumes Wednesday, when the Crown will cross-examine Snively. 

Jeffrey Manishen of Hamilton is representing Marchant. The Crown attorneys are Linda Shin and Scott Patterson.

Justice Harrison Arrell is presiding over the judge-only trial. 

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

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