Medic on trial didn't see bloody shoes of teen who died from gunshot, court hears
Yosif Al-Hasnawi was shot and died on Dec. 2, 2017
Steven Snively, a paramedic who faces a criminal charge in connection with the death of Yosif Al-Hasnawi, says he didn't see the teenager's bloody shoes, even when Al-Hasnawi kneed him in the chest.
A photo was shown in court of the gunshot victim's Nike sneakers from the night of Dec. 2, 2017. There were splatters of red on the white leather, and Crown attorney Scott Patterson asked the defendant if it looked like blood.
"I can't say what it looks like, what it is," Snively said. "It could also look like hot sauce."
Snively was testifying in the superior court trial of two former Hamilton paramedics, who are accused of not properly caring for Al-Hasnawi the night he died.
Snively, 55, and Christopher Marchant, 32, are charged with failing to provide the 19-year-old the necessaries of life. Both defendants have testified they thought Al-Hasnawi was having a psychiatric emergency.
The paramedics also thought the teen had been shot with a BB or pellet gun, the court has heard. But in fact, Al-Hasnawi had been shot with a .22-caliber handgun at 8:55 p.m. around Main and Sanford in Hamilton. He was pronounced dead at St. Joseph's Hospital at 9:58 p.m.
A photo was shown of Al-Hasnawi's dark grey sweater from that night. A label on the sweater said "blood" and an arrow pointed to a dark splotch.
Patterson asked if seeing blood could mean that the injury on Al-Hasnawi's stomach was a penetrating wound. The paramedics said they ruled out that the wound was a penetrative one, which is why they didn't go to Hamilton General Hospital.
Snively said it was possible. If it was visible, and if he could have determined it was blood, it would have caused him to "look elsewhere" for its source, he said.
But Snively testified that he didn't see the blood on the sweater that night. He also said he didn't see blood on Al-Hasnawi's sneakers, even when the teenager became more agitated and kneed him in the chest.
They were in the tight confines of the back of the ambulance, and Snively has testified that he stood by Al-Hasnawi's legs.
The court has heard Al-Hasnawi died with two litres of blood in his abdomen. Dr. Andrew Healey, the emergency physician, testified that he opened up the teen's chest to save his life, but found his heart was empty.
It took paramedics 23 minutes to leave for St. Joseph's Hospital. Video showed the ambulance arriving at the hospital, the stretcher being unloaded, and Al-Hasnawi being wheeled through double doors of the emergency department.
Al-Hasnawi was wearing black socks in all of this footage. Snively said he couldn't remember how his shoes were removed or where they were at this point.
"I personally did not take off his shoes," Snively said.
This was Snively's last day of testimony. During cross-examination, the Crown pressed him about the time it took to take Al-Hasnawi's vitals and perform a full abdominal examination with intent. It didn't seem possible in the 19 seconds shown on video, argued Patterson.
Snively said paramedics are multitasking, and that he treats all of his calls seriously. Before he passed on care to Marchant, he didn't find Al-Hasnawi to be altered or in distress.
Witness said 'pellet gun,' medic says
The Crown also raised questions about the moment that Mahdi, Al-Hasnawi's younger brother, stepped in to lift the teen off the ground and carry him.
"That's bad right?" Patterson asked of the lift, noting there could have been a penetrating injury and C-spine considerations.
"It could be, yes," Snively replied.
The defendant said he lifted Al-Hasnawi's legs and didn't truly realize what was happening until they reached the front of the police cruiser.
"My mind just goes to get involved and do what I can," he said of the commotion.
In Snively's incident report from that call, he described having a conversation with a bystander. He wrote that the patient said the weapon was a pellet gun.
When he asked the bystander — Mustafa Ameer, who testified in this trial — about the weapon's appearance, its size, and if there was any muzzle flash, Snively wrote that the teen was "uncertain."
Ameer told the court he doesn't know the meaning of "muzzle flash." Snively said he didn't describe this term when he asked the question.
Snively agreed when Patterson said that a gun's description and its size isn't all that helpful when determining if it was a pellet gun.
"We had heard pellet gun on multiple occasions from multiple people and sources," Snively said, noting he heard "pellet" mentioned both by bystanders and officers.
Along with how the wound looked, Snively said, "it appeared to be a pellet gun wound to me."
Marchant has also testified in his own defence.
Justice Harrisson Arrell is presiding over the judge-only trial. It started at the John Sopinka Courthouse in Hamilton on Nov. 24 and is continuing online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Crown attorneys are Scott Patterson and Linda Shin.
Defence attorneys are Jeffrey Manishen of Hamilton, who represents Marchant, and Michael DelGobbo of St. Catharines, who represents Snively.
The person who shot Al-Hasnawi, Dale King, was acquitted last year of second-degree murder. That case is being appealed.