Flint water Michigan Flint prosecutors charges

Prosecutors Drop Charges in Flint Water Investigation, Promise New Probe

In a surprising twist of events, prosecutors are dismissing all criminal charges against the eight people implicated in the water crisis scandal in Flint, Michigan. They do plan to relaunch the investigation. The water crisis has been documented as one of the worst environmental disasters caused by man ever in the history of the United States.

The defendants involved in the case include Michigan’s former health director, Nick Lyon, who faced an involuntary manslaughter charge. He “allegedly” failed to warn Flint residents about an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that occurred between 2014 and 2015. During that time, Flint residents were consuming inadequately treated water from the lead-contaminated Flint River. His negligence resulted in lead contamination in the city water.

Related Story: Jaden Smith’s Foundation to Provide Water to Flint Residents

In total, 15 state and local officials, including local politicians and even a member of the governor’s cabinet, had been accused by the State of Michigan for committing crimes as serious as involuntary manslaughter. Prosecutors also seized the cellphone records of former Michigan governor, Rick Snyder, during the investigation.

He wasn’t charged with a crime although he was just as negligent as the others who were facing charges. Seven of the people involved have taken plea deals. The remaining eight suspects, which are mostly high-ranking state politicians, are awaiting new trials. Double jeopardy prevents the seven individuals who took plea deals from being retried for the same crime.

Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud, who is directly under the attorney general, took over the investigation in January after the new attorney general was elected, said “all available evidence was not pursued” by the previous team of prosecutors.

“This week, we completed the transfer into our possession millions of documents and hundreds of new electronic devices, significantly expanding the scope of our investigation,” Hammoud in conjunction with Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy announced in a statement on Thursday.

“Our team’s efforts have produced the most comprehensive body of evidence to date related to the Flint water crisis. We are now in the best possible position to find the answers the citizens of Flint deserve and hold all responsible parties accountable.”

Flint residents don’t necessarily trust the attorney general’s office, especially given the fact that despite people died, perpetrators were barely given slaps on the wrist. There’s so much distrust of the government at both local and state levels that many residents still will not drink city water. And although the new administration wants to reassure the people of Flint that they will do a thorough investigation, residents don’t buy it.

“This is not justice,” said Melissa Mays, a Flint resident, and advocate for safe drinking water. “It just seems like a political ploy.” She added: “The only thing it tells me is our lives don’t matter.”

Mays’ response is appropriate. Children fared worst during the water crisis which started in 2014. And an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease killed 12 people.

The two truths in this debacle are that the people of Flint deserve more justice and restitution than they’ve received. The $30 million dollars spent on lawyers and other expenses to pursue an investigation should, rightfully, go to them.

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. This is really disturbing. The downfall of the country is well in place, only a matter of time now.

  2. Steve Ross

    I don’t quite know what to make of this, but it seems fishy. The prosecutor is saying there is a lot of new evidence to go through and that the current prosecution was botched. But a future prosecution will be subject to new state elections and may not have the cooperation of those who copped a plea.

    Speaking as one who as president of New Jersey Environmental Lobby twice sued Gov. Christie Whitman for non-enforcement of federal environmental laws and twice won summary judgement only to see her appointed as head of EPA, I share Flint’s angst even if the current prosecutor is being honest.

    Btw, first thing Whitman did as EPA chief was to delay and weaken new regs on arsenic in drinking water that had been promulgated by Clinton.

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