Michigan Attorney General charges five water officials with manslaughter
By Black Powder | RPM Staff, June 14, 2017
On Wednesday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette charged five officials including a member of Gov. Rick Snyder’s cabinet and a former emergency manager with involuntary manslaughter related to their alleged failure to act during the Flint Water Crisis.
MLive.com reports, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley, former City of Flint Water Department Manager Howard Croft, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Drinking Water Chief Liane Shekter-Smith and Water Supervisor Steven Busch will all face involuntary manslaughter charges.
According to Detroit Free Press, those charges, felonies punishable by up to 15 years in prison, stem from the death of 85-year-old Robert Skidmore, who died of in December 2015. State officials, they said, knew about the outbreak but refused to sound a public alarm that could have saved lives. At least 12 people died from complications related to the outbreak.
In all, 15 people have been charged with 51 counts. Two have plead no contest to lesser charges and agreed to help with the investigation, but none of the cases have gone to court yet.
Todd Flood, a former Wayne County Prosecutor who is serving as special counsel in the investigation, said today’s charges stem from the deadly inaction of government officials.
“There are two types of people: those who give a damn and those who don’t,” Flood said. “I have run across many public servants who do care, but this is a case where there is willful disregard.”
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Schuette said he’s “very confident” the charges filed will be upheld in court.
“The health crisis in Flint has created a trust crisis in Michigan government, exposing a serious lack of confidence in leaders to accept responsibility and solve problems,” Schuette said.
Legionnaires’ disease is a pneumonia-like illness caused by inhaling water vapor infected with Legionella bacteria. Unlike the lead poisoning that has affected thousands of Flint children, Legionnaires’ is not caused by drinking contaminated water.