Ontario’s police watchdog is investigating the actions of a Hamilton officer who responded to the shooting of a 19-year-old Good Samaritan last year, a case that has seen two paramedics criminally charged after the teen’s fatal injuries were allegedly dismissed.
Yosif Al-Hasnawi, a Brock University student, was shot in the stomach after he intervened in a confrontation between two young men and an older man outside the Al-Moustafa Islamic Centre in downtown Hamilton, where he had been attending an event with his family on the night of Dec. 2, 2017.
When emergency responders arrived, witnesses said the police and paramedics insisted Mr. Al-Hasnawi had been shot with a pellet gun and accused him of acting.
Witnesses said Mr. Al-Hasnawi lay on the sidewalk for 40 minutes before being taken to hospital, despite pleas from his family. When he was transported, he was taken to St. Joseph’s Healthcare – even though the city’s lead trauma centre, where gunshot victims are typically treated, is Hamilton General Hospital. He was pronounced dead that night.
Dale Burningsky King, 19, and James Matheson, 20 have been charged in connection with his murder.
The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which investigates all cases involving police officers that result in death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault, said in its announcement Friday that it was alerted to the case through media reports.
“Given allegations in the media at the time regarding the actions of first responders at the scene, including police, the SIU began making preliminary inquiries to assess whether there was a basis to invoke the Unit’s jurisdiction,” spokesperson Monica Hudon said in a statement Friday.
Based on the results of their preliminary inquiries, which included medical evidence, the SIU said it is investigating the role of one Hamilton police officer. The SIU has also designated two witness officers who will be interviewed.
Police services in Ontario are obligated to immediately notify the SIU of any incidents of serious injury, allegations of sexual assault or death involving their officers. Hamilton Police spokeswoman Jackie Penman said the service contacted the SIU on Dec. 5.
Two paramedics – Steven Snively, 53, of Hamilton and Christopher Marchant, 29, of Whitby, Ont. – have been charged with failure to provide the necessities of life in relation to the death of Mr. Al-Hasnawi. Those charges were laid by the Niagara Regional Police Service, which was brought in to ensure an independent and impartial probe.
Both Mr. Snively and Mr. Marchant have been fired from the paramedic service. The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care also opened an investigation under the Ambulance Act, which is continuing.