Two Hamilton paramedics have been charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life to a 19-year-old Hamilton man who was shot and killed last year while trying to help a man being harassed.
The union representing the paramedics said in a statement that they will vigorously defend against the charges.
“These precedent-setting criminal charges are game changers for our paramedic profession and we are confident that when the totality of the evidence is provided, they will be vindicated,” Mario Posteraro, president of OPSEU Local 256, said in an email.
“A criminal conviction requires proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
LISTEN: Mario Posteraro, president of OPSEU Local 256
Yosif Al-Hasnawi, a Brock University student and aspiring doctor, was leaving the Al-Mostafa Islamic Centre mosque in central Hamilton on the evening of Dec. 2 when he and a friend saw two men verbally harassing an older man. Al-Hasnawi tried to intervene and was subsequently shot. He was taken to hospital and died a short time later.
Witnesses present on the night of the shooting questioned the response by Hamilton paramedics and claimed the ambulance took a long time to arrive. They also said the paramedics didn’t appear to take the injuries seriously.
“For more than 20 minutes we asked the paramedics to take him to hospital and they said, ‘No, he was just fine. When he saw you coming he started acting out,’” Amin Al-Tahir, a director at the mosque, said after the shooting.
The Hamilton Paramedic Service (HPS) said it has been conducting an investigation into what happened. When asked for comment about the charges Wednesday night, Acting Chief Russell Crocker told Global News in a statement the service learned of the charges through media reports.
He said the internal investigation is “nearing completion” but could not provide further information “on matters relating to human resources, labour relations or the employment status of its staff.”
“HPS remains committed to the protection and safety of the residents of the city of Hamilton,” Crocker wrote.
“Our thoughts and sincerest condolences continue to be with the family of Yosif Al-Hasnawi.”
In December, the Hamilton Police Service asked the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) to conduct a “fair and impartial” investigation. At the time, a Hamilton police spokesperson said a criminal investigation was warranted based on unspecified “preliminary evidence.”
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NRPS said in a statement on Thursday that 53-year-old Steven Snively was arrested on Wednesday and 29-year-old Christopher Marchant was arrested on Thursday.
Both men were charged with failure to provide neccessaries of life, according to the statement. They were released with the promise to appear in a Hamilton court on Sept. 11.
Chief Bryan MacCulloch called the case a “complex and intricate investigation,” which consisted of more than 60 witness interviews.
The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care carried out a separate investigation into the incident.
Dale Burningsky King, a 19-year-old Hamilton resident, was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death of Al-Hasnawi. James Anthony Robert Matheson, a 20-year-old Hamilton resident, was charged with accessory after the fact of murder.
The charges have not been proven in court.
— With files from David Shum and Jessica Patton