Michigan prosecutors dropped all pending charges against state officials indicted in the Flint water crisis, The New York Times reports.
Fifteen state and local officials were charged with crimes after they ignored warning signs and allowed the city’s water supply to be contaminated with highly unsafe levels of lead. Seven of those officials have already taken plea deals. Eight others, who were charged with crimes as serious as involuntary manslaughter, had charges against them dropped Thursday.
The Michigan attorney general’s office announced it was dropping the charges in the eight remaining cases but left open the possibility that it may still charge some of the same people at a later time.
“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,” Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement.
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said she hopes the prosecutor follow through with new charges.
“It is frustrating, but I’d rather be frustrated at this end and know that they’re going to do a deep dive into what happened,” Weaver told the Times. “I think this way, they may have the evidence they need to be able to hold them accountable and throw away the key.”
Flint water crisis was caused by officials:
“Flint’s water crisis, which started in 2014, was a failure of government at all levels. A state-appointed emergency manager switched the city’s drinking water source from Detroit’s municipal water system to the Flint River in an effort to save money. Local officials failed to implement corrosion controls, allowing lead to leach from pipes. Health agencies assured residents the water was safe even as people complained that it smelled bad, tasted funny and was discolored,” The New York Times reported.
“Children drank water with dangerous quantities of lead. At least 12 people died in a Legionnaires’ outbreak that prosecutors linked to the new water source,” the report added.
Activists upset over decision:
“This is not justice,” Melissa Mays, a Flint resident and advocate for safe drinking water, told The Times. “It just seems like a political ploy.” She added: “The only thing it tells me is our lives don’t matter.”
“It feels kind of degrading,” Flint activist LeeAnne Walters told The AP, “like all that we went through doesn’t matter. Our city was poisoned, my children have health issues, and the people responsible just had all the charges dropped against them.”