Official hopes charges in Flint water case help return trust

  • Official hopes charges in Flint water case help return trust

Official hopes charges in Flint water case help return trust

Five officials in MI, including the head of the state's health department, were charged Tuesday with involuntary manslaughter, marking the first time investigators have drawn a direct link between the acts of government officials in Flint's water contamination crisis and the deaths of residents that followed.

On Wednesday it was reported that multiple MI lawmakers and officials were charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Four year old Sincere Smith, whose face became synonymous with the Flint water crisis after his photo appeared on the cover of Time Magazine, developed a serious skin rash after coming into contact with lead tainted water. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Medical Executive Dr. Eden Wells was also charged with lying to a peace officer and obstruction of justice.

However, according to Reuters, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said in a statement that he still has "full faith and confidence" in Lyon and Wells.

Livengood says there were alleged threats made to the president of Wayne State, by an unnamed senior advisor to Governor Snyder, to pull funding for research into the legionnaires outbreak for attempting to broaden the scope of the research.

Calls for Snyder to step down were heard on Wednesday as well.

With more than a dozen people now having been charged, and pre-trial hearings and other legal proceedings occurring, Schuette released the initial results of the more than yearlong investigation.

"As riveting as they are, this issue of Flint is beyond that", he said. Corrosive Flint water leached lead and iron into the metal pipes, and the iron had the additional effect of counteracting the disinfectant in the water.

"This is the most comprehensive investigation in modern MI history in my opinion", Schuette said, "and I'm going to get it done right, no matter what the consequences, no matter what people say".

The others charged with involuntary manslaughter were already facing other accusations.

Water Supervisor Stephen Busch, former Flint Water Department Manager Howard Croft and ex-Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Drinking Water Chief Liane Shekter-Smith also were charged with manslaughter for failing to notify the public about an outbreak of Legionnaire's disease in the Flint area. Schuette said his investigation will continue as they keep combing through evidence.

A number of past and present MI state officials were charged with involuntary manslaughter. The people I spoke to, including Ocean Alexander, say the water crisis has largely faded as a topic of daily conversation. "Many people have died because of the decisions [other] people made".

Involuntary manslaughter is a felony that carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

Even if Schuette doesn't get convictions in the charges related to the Flint water crisis investigation, Howes said, there's still a political benefit to aggressively pursuing the case.

Charles Chamberlain, Lyon's attorney, and Jerold Lax, Wells' attorney, could not immediately be reached for comment. "This is a tough case for the attorney general".