The Flint Water Crisis has led to more serious legal charges and the cases have escalated to a new phase.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette charged Nick Lyon, the head of the Michigan health department with involuntary manslaughter.
Schuette also charged Darnell Earley, Flint’s former emergency manager; Howard Croft, the city’s former director of public works; the water supervisor Stephen Busch of the Department of Environmental Quality, and Liane Shekter-Smith, Michigan’s former top drinking water official.
“We will turn to the prosecution of this investigation,” said Schuette. “We are confident that the charges that we have filed will be upheld in the courts.”
“Since 2014, when this city switched water suppliers, partly to save money, the water has been linked to the lead poisoning of children and the deaths of 12 people from Legionnaires’ disease. It was one those deaths that led to the involuntary manslaughter accusations, Bill Schuette, Michigan’s attorney general, said on Wednesday. He also announced a new list of charges in a sweeping investigation that has already led to cases against 13 officials,” writes the New York Times.
According to the indictment, Lyon was aware of the outbreak and did not warn the public.
Apparently he knew of 85-year-old Robert Skidmore death, who passed of Legionnaire’s Disease back in December 2015.
“Mr. Lyon knew of the Legionnaires’ outbreak by late January 2015, court documents claim, but did not notify the public for another year. At one point, the documents allege, he said that “he can’t save everyone” and that “everyone has to die of something,” writes the New York Times. “The charging documents pointed in particular to the death of Mr. Skidmore, the former autoworker, on Dec. 13, 2015. Mr. Schuette said that Mr. Skidmore had been tending to his ailing wife in mid-2015 when he grew ill, apparently from the water.”
At least 12 other deaths have been related to the outbreak.
“Mr. Lyon failed in his responsibilities to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Flint,” said Schuette in a press conference Wednesday. “The families of Flint have experienced a tragic, tragic health and safety crisis for the past three years.”
Lyons and the other former officials from his team face up to 15 years in prison.
So far, 15 people have been charged with 51 counts. None of the cases have appeared in court yet.
“There are two types of people: those who give a damn and those who don’t,” said Flood, who is acting as special counsel in the investigation. “I have run across many public servants who do care, but this is a case where there is willful disregard.”
Schuette said the investigation is far from over. There has been some speculation that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder should be charged too.
“We only file criminal charges when evidence of probable cause to commit a crime has been established, and we are not filing charges at this time,” said Schuette about if the governor will face charges.
The governor has been especially supportive of Lyon and Eden Wells, the chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, another official charged.
“That is not justice for Flint nor for those who have been charged,” said Synder. “Director Lyon and Dr. Wells have been and continue to be instrumental in Flint’s recovery. They have my full faith and confidence, and will remain on duty at D.H.H.S.”
Editor’s note: People may feel justified in charging this man with manslaughter, perhaps even rightfully so. But there is more than enough incompetence, negligencce and culpability to go around. This was the result off a “cost saving” measure. And that was necessary because of a lack of infrastructure maintenance and attention by local officials.
Now it is almost guaranteed that funds from state or federal government will be thrown at this. Which means that if you are a local municipality and you prove incompentent you will get benefits.
Anything you subsidize you get more of – including incompetence.