Two Hamilton paramedics who treated dying teenager Yosif Al-Hasnawi in 2017 are guilty of failing to provide the necessaries of life, an Ontario Superior Court judge has found.
Steven Snively, 55, and Christopher Marchant, 32, had pleaded not guilty.
"To say this is a tragic case would be a gross understatement," Justice Harrison Arrell said in delivering his decision Tuesday.
The 19-year-old's father Majed Al-Hasnawi, reacted to the finding by saying, "I think it's very fair. They are guilty. I'm not concerned if they take 10 years in jail or one. I'm not about that. I'm happy."
Yosif was in Hamilton's lower city on the night of Dec. 2, 2017, when he was shot in the abdomen.
The court heard Snively and Marchant believed the teen had been shot with a BB or pellet gun. In fact, Al-Hasnawi was shot with a .22-calibre handgun, and the hollow-point bullet pierced an artery and vein.
It took paramedics 23 minutes to leave the scene at Main and Sanford that night, the court heard. The teen was shot at 8:55 p.m. ET, and pronounced dead at St. Joseph's Hospital about an hour later.
In his decision, Arrell said paramedics are taught that a penetrating wound to a person's abdomen is an immediate "load and go" to a lead trauma hospital, but they failed to follow training and protocols.
Instead, they "listened to rumours and innuendos" at the scene that the wound was superficial and could not be serious, "and as such deprived Yosif of his only possible chance of survival," said the judge.
Arrell said Snively's and Marchant's actions that night amounted to a "marked departure" from the minimum standard expected of properly trained paramedics.
He pointed to three issues:
- Failure to properly identify that the wound was a penetrating one.
- Their participation in dangerous lifts to move him from the sidewalk.
- The delay in leaving the scene.
"I conclude these various failures by the accused were not simple inadvertence, thoughtlessness or simple errors in judgment, but instead were a conscious decision to ignore their training and standards," said Arrell.
"I also also conclude that as a result of these various failures of the accused, it was objectively and reasonably foreseeable that they were risking Yosif's life and permanently endangering his health."
Defence argued mistakes were non-criminal
Arrell presided over the judge-alone trial, which started in November 2020.
Crown attorneys Scott Patterson and Linda Shin had argued the paramedics ignored their training and departed from provincial standards. In closing arguments, they called the medical care the pair provided "grossly negligent."
But the defence said the paramedics were following unconscious biases that night, which led them astray in treating Al-Hasnawi.
They also said that while some of the paramedics' actions may have been mistakes, it didn't necessarily mean they were criminally responsible.
Both of the accused testified on their own behalf and said they thought Al-Hasnawi was experiencing a psychiatric emergency.
Jeffrey Manishen of Hamilton represented Marchant and Michael DelGobbo of St. Catharines represented Snively.
Other witnesses who testified included medical experts, dispatchers and first responders — firefighters and police officers — as well as bystanders, including Al-Hasnawi's family members, who were there that night.
Al-Hasnawi was outside a Main Street E. mosque on Dec. 2 with one of his brothers and others.
He's been referred to as a Good Samaritan because the shooting happened after he intervened when he saw two people accost an older man.
Dale King, the man who shot Al-Hasnawi, was acquitted last year of second-degree murder. That decision is being appealed.
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