Witnesses recall BB gun theory the night Yosif Al-Hasnawi was shot

A Hamilton police officer on scene near Main and Sanford Streets after 19-year-old Yosif Al-Hasnawi was shot on Dec. 2, 2017. Global News

Three witnesses on scene near a Hamilton convenience store the night Yosif Al-Hasnawi was shot gave similar accounts of how small his wound appeared to be, and the likelihood it came from a bb gun.

Day seven in the trial of Steve Snively, of Hamilton, and Christopher Marchant, of Whitby, two paramedics accused of failing to provide the necessaries of life, featured witnesses who encountered the 19-year-old minutes after he was hit with by a .22 calibre bullet near Main Street East and Sanford Avenue.

“That sounded like a BB gun”

Crown attorney Linda Shin started proceedings with a witness who said he was in the neighbourhood with his son to buy cigarettes the night of the shooting.

George Catsoudas and the court watched surveillance video from a nearby convenience store to recount his memories from the night of Dec. 2, 2017.

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The video showed Al-Hasnawi’s frantic brother running into the business looking for help, while Catsoudas was preparing to get out of his mini-van.

Moments later Catsoudas entered the store and said the bang he just heard “sounded like a BB gun.”

Catsoudas told the court he eventually walked over to Al-Hasnawi and saw him with his shirt pulled up and just a “little bit of blood” on his belly that was “finger smeared.”

He would later characterize the wound as a “scab” which had been pulled off too soon and appeared to have been from a BB gun, based on his childhood experiences.

In a re-examination, Shin would ask him if he any medical training and if he had ever seen a gunshot.

Catsoudas would respond “no” to both questions.

“It’s just a pellet gun”

Most of Thursday’s proceedings would focus on a family friend who rushed to see Al-Hasnawi after being told he was shot.

Amin Al-Tahir, a director from the Al Moustafa Islamic Centre in Hamilton, Ont., gave his account to a superior court judge on Thursday of what he witnessed on the night of Dec. 2, 2017

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During the questioning from the Crown, Al-Tahir told the court he has been a friend of the family since 2007 and on the night of the shooting, he was at the mosque Majed and two of Yosif’s brothers during a large gathering celebrating the birth of the prophet Mohammed.

Read more: Younger brother of Yosif Al-Hasnawi says paramedics didn’t do their job the night he died

Al-Tahir told the court he was standing with Yosif’s father when one of the sons, Mahdi, came in and told his father that Yosif had been shot.

Upon arriving at the scene, Al-Tahir told the court he saw three police officers, the paramedics and an ambulance.

One of the memorable things he saw was the “younger” of the two paramedics pressing Al-Hasnawi’s wound with gauze and saying “You see, there is nothing. It’s just a pellet gun. Stop acting.”

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Al-Tahir said he got a look at Al-Hasnawi’s would and saw a small hole with “Just tiny bits. A really thin line” of blood on his stomach and sweater.

He also recounted a moment when Yosif responded to a command for the same paramedic to move his left foot and put it on his right knee and then the reverse.

He then said both paramedics made attempts to lift Al-Hasnawi off the ground which failed and that’s when a gathering of nearby people started yelling.

“When they let him go down on the ground, it was really rudely and they shouldn’t deal with a patient like this,” he told Shin and the court.

He also said they “tossed” him on the stretcher like a “heavy weight” which he didn’t feel was the “right way.”

Minutes later he said the stretcher was loaded on the ambulance and it left “without a siren” — just the lights on.

Read more: ‘Tell him to stop acting’ father of Yosif Al-Hasnawi claims paramedic said on night of son’s death

Al-Tahir said he never saw a medical bag or any other equipment when the paramedics treated Al-Hasnawi on the ground.

In his cross-examination, attorney Jeff Manishen, who represents Marchant, asked Al-Tahir about his memory and whether there are things he may of forgotten.

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Manishen also referred to the January 2018 interview and suggested that Al-Tahir’s recollection of how long it took paramedics to put Al-Hasnawi onto the stretcher was less than the 20 minutes he told police.

Manishen suggested it was only about two and a half minutes and said those moments can be viewed on surveillance video from the scene.

Later, Manishen had the court play back video from the scene and asked Al-Tahir if it’s possible that it was a paramedic and police officer that attempted to lift Al-Hasnawi up from the ground and not two paramedics.

After watching several minutes, Al-Tahir said, “I’m not really sure.”

The attorney then asked if it’s possible that a “whole group of people” tried to lift Al-Hasnawi and not just the paramedics after they failed.

Al-Tahir said it was only Al-Hasnawi’s dad and brother Mahdi that came to help the paramedics.

“Small circular wound”

The final witness on Thursday would be Hamilton police officer Sgt. Nesreen Shawihat who was on patrol the night of the shooting and arrived at the scene just after 9:p.m.

Read more: Ambulance dispatchers, former firefighter testify at trial for Hamilton paramedics

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Shawihat would tell Crown attorney Scott Patterson that “comments” about a BB gun were floating around when she first arrived but could not tell him who specifically was saying it.

“It was just when I first arrived, there was a few people that were also near the victim, Yousif,” Shawihat said. “I don’t know who they were specifically.”

From that point on, she told Patterson, she was “leaning” more toward the possibility that the weapon that hurt Al-Hasnawi was a BB gun and not a real firearm.

The sergeant would eventually encounter Al-Hasnawi just minutes before paramedics would begin their journey to St. Joe’s hospital.

Upon entering the ambulance, with Snively and Marchant, she observed the two removing the victim’s sweater and t-shirt.

Shawihat said Al-Hasnawi was “moaning” and “flailing” his feet and arms the entire time. She then preceded to help the paramedics with restraints.

Shawihat said she was able to see Al-Hasnawi’s wound and described it as small.

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“There was a small circular wound just to the near the belly button, but very minimal blood” said Shawihat.

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She also was able to get a look at Al-Hasnawi’s back and didn’t observe any type of exit wound.

Day eight of the trial goes Friday morning and will continue with a cross-examination of Shawihat from defence attorneys Manishen and DelGobbo.

Over the next five weeks, Justice Harrison Arrell is expected to hear testimony from numerous witnesses, including emergency responders, Al-Hasnawi’s family, and bystanders who witnessed the teenager’s final moments.

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