Prosecutors plan to keep investigating the Flint water scandal
Prosecutors dropped all charges against officials in the Flint water scandal June 13. State prosecutors accused 15 state and local officials of multiple crimes, including involuntary manslaughter, according to The New York Times. Eight more officials were awaiting trial, but those charges were dropped Thursday.
This comes three years after the first charges were filed. According to The New York Times, prosecutors have left open the possibility of recharging some of the same people, and also others.
"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," said Dana Nessel, Michigan attorney general, in a statement Thursday to NPR.
Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy assumed control of the investigation January. According to the NPR, the prosecutors had expressed deep concern over the previous prosecution team’s investigation upon taking up the case.
Hammoud and Worthy said by dismissing the cases against the defendants they can move forward with a more ethical investigation, rather than “build on a flawed foundation," according to NPR.
“This is not justice,” said Melissa Mays, a Flint resident and advocate for safe drinking water to The New York Times. “It just seems like a political ploy. The only thing it tells me is our lives don’t matter.”
The crisis started in 2014 when a manager switched the city’s drinking water source from Detroit’s municipal water system to the Flint River to save money. According to the The New York Times, officials failed to implement corrosion control which allowed lead to leach from pipes.
Although residents complained the water smelled bad and tasted funny, health agencies assured them it was safe. According to the The New York Times, children drank water with dangerous amounts of lead and at least 12 people died in a Legionnaires’ outbreak.
“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,” Hammoud and Worthy said in a statement. According to the The New York Times, they said they would meet with Flint residents later this month.