Prosecutors say they're dismissing all criminal charges against eight people in the Flint water scandal and starting the investigation over again.
The eight people include former Michigan health director Nick Lyon. He was accused of failing to timely inform the public about an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease when Flint was using improperly treated water from the Flint River in 2014 and 2015.
The outbreak occurred at the same time that the city's water system was contaminated with lead.
Lyon was the highest-ranking official to be charged in the investigation.
As of March 31, the total cost of litigation was nearly $9.5 million, according to the Attorney General's Office.
The impacted cases are as followed:
People v. Gerald Ambrose, 18-042559-FH
People v. Patrick Cook, 16TC1685
People v. Howard Croft, 16TC2850
People v. Darnell Earley, 16TB2850
People v. Nicolas Lyon, 18-043836-FH
People v. Nancy Peeler, 16TD1685
People v. Robert Scott, 16TE1685
People v. Eden Wells, 18-044241-FH
Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy issued the following statement:
“Legitimate criminal prosecutions require complete investigations. Upon assuming responsibility of this case, our team of career prosecutors and investigators had immediate and grave concerns about the investigative approach and legal theories embraced by the OSC, particularly regarding the pursuit of evidence. After a complete evaluation, our concerns were validated. Contrary to accepted standards of criminal investigation and prosecution, all available evidence was not pursued. Instead, the OSC entered into agreements that gave private law firms—representing Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Treasury, and the Executive Office of former Governor Rick Snyder—a role in deciding what information would be turned over to law enforcement.
“From the outset, our team seriously considered dismissal of all pending cases initiated by the OSC. However, we believed the people of Flint deserved expeditious action, despite the shortcomings of the OSC, and we worked to salvage whatever progress had been made. We were also mindful of the massive expenditure of public resources up to that point and sought to use taxpayer money as efficiently as possible. Nonetheless, we cannot provide the citizens of Flint the investigation they rightly deserve by continuing to build on a flawed foundation. Dismissing these cases allows us to move forward according to the non-negotiable requirements of a thorough, methodical and ethical investigation.
“Our career prosecutors and investigators have worked around the clock to conduct the kind of criminal investigation to which all citizens are entitled, regardless of their zip code. That begins with a commitment to obtain and review all evidence. By executing a series of search warrants, our investigators aggressively pursued an extraordinary amount of potential evidence not previously examined by law enforcement. 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. 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.
“Our team has already identified additional individuals of interest and new information relevant to the Flint Water Crisis. These investigative leads will be aggressively pursued. Additionally, we will evaluate criminal culpability for all Legionnaires deaths that occurred after the switch to the Flint River, which was never done by the OSC.
“It is important to note that this voluntary dismissal by our team is not a determination of any defendant’s criminal responsibility. We are not precluded from refiling charges against the defendants listed below or adding new charges and additional defendants.
“We understand this decision will not bring immediate remedy or relief to the citizens of Flint, who remain victims of one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in United States history. However, we recognize the only acceptable remedy is the vigorous pursuit of justice, which demands an uncompromising investigation of the Flint Water Crisis and professional prosecution of all those criminally culpable. Accordingly, our team will move forward unrestrained by political motivations, prior tactics, or opportunities for financial gain.”
A community conversation in Flint with Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy has been scheduled for Friday, June 28.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued the following statement:
“The depth and breadth of concern for a fair and just prosecution and justice for the people of Flint is precisely why I appointed and entrusted Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy to lead the Flint criminal cases. I trust them and if this step is necessary for them to do a comprehensive and complete investigation. I am in absolute support.
“I want to remind the people of Flint that justice delayed is not always justice denied and a fearless and dedicated team of career prosecutors and investigators are hard at work to ensure those who harmed you are held accountable.”
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver issued the following statement:
“I am happy to see that this case is being handled with the seriousness and dogged determination that it should have been handled with from the beginning.
The residents of the City of Flint deserve justice, we deserve to have every single person involved investigated. There were millions of documents and a lot of devices that should have been turned over that would have aided in getting the justice that we seek.
How can our community regain any trust and respect from all branches of government when all levels failed them, then you allow the people you are prosecuting to decided what evidence they want you to have? This is once again an entire administrations clear lack of respect for human life and common decency, another attempt to cover up what should have never happened to begin with.
Residents who still live here and who chose to move as a result of this crisis matter, and everyone responsible for what happened here should be held accountable.”