Americas News

Michigan officials charged with manslaughter and obstruction over Flint water crisis

A judge authorized manslaughter and obstruction of justice charges against six Michigan officials in connection with the Flint water crisis

District Judge David Guinn on June 14 authorized manslaughter charges against Michigan Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon and four other officials in connection with the Flint water crisis.

The state’s chief medical executive, Dr. Eden Wells, was charged with obstructing the investigation.

Lyons was charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter for failing to alert the public about an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area. The outbreak, which killed 12 people in 2014 and 2015, was attributed to the poor water conditions in and around the city.

Four other officials were charged with involuntary manslaughter: former Flint emergency manager Darnell Early and public works director Howard Croft, and state environmental regulators Liane Shekter Smith and Stephen Busch.

The four were already facing charges in connection with the water crisis.

Wells was charged with obstruction of justice and lying to a police officer during the investigation.

Prosecutors have already charged 13 current or former government officials in connection with the Flint crisis, including two city emergency managers appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

In March, US District Judge David Lawson approved an $87 million settlement that requires the state to pay the city of Flint to replace unsafe water pipes.

The charges come almost three years after a state-appointed emergency manager switched the city’s drinking water supply from Lake Huron water treated in Detroit to Flint River water treated in Flint.

Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality has acknowledged the failure to require the use of corrosion-control chemicals as part of the treatment process.

Corrosive water caused lead to leach from joints, pipes, and fixtures, causing a spike in toxic lead levels in the blood of Flint residents.

Flint switched back to Detroit water in October 2015, but the risk of lead remains because of damage to the city’s water distribution infrastructure.


Join us in the newsroom?

Grasswire is an open newsroom. We collaborate online in an open Slack channel where we pitch, source, verify, write and edit stories.

0 / 1857