Charges against ex-state and city officials linked to the Flint Water Crisis have been dismissed as "flawed," leaving city residents without respite.
Michigan prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against the state and federal officials connected to the contamination of the city of Flint, alleging that more thorough investigation was necessary to proceed with the case.
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC), a federal prosecutorial agency, led the case against eight ex-state and city officials as well as Michigan’s Chief Medical Officer Eden Wells, for their roles in the water crisis which killed 12 people and sickened over 70.
However, on arriving to court Wednesday, it was dismissed as “flawed.”
According to the prosecutors, the OSC made agreements that gave law firms representing state agencies and officials a role in deciding what information would be turned over to law enforcement during their investigation. As a result, not all evidence was pursued, they said.
“Dismissing these cases allows us to move forward according to the non-negotiable requirements of a thorough, methodical and ethical investigation,” Michigan’s Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said in a statement.
Numerous scientific health studies have called the Flint water crisis one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in U.S. history.
In Flint, an impoverished city, financial managers were given control over its troubled finances by the governor. In an attempt to cut costs, in 2014, the city switched its water supply over to the heavily polluted Flint River from its original source at Lake Huron. The water was left untreated to reduce corrosion, but lead infiltrated the system, contaminating the drinking water and which experts linked to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.
Other individuals of interest in the case have been identified through further investigation, the OSC said. Yet, the outlook is bleak.
After three years of investigation, no one has been found accountable and those taken to court have been dismissed of all charges and seven of the 15 defendants have pleaded no contest to misdemeanors.
Michigan Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, a Democrat who represents Flint, lamented the court’s decision, saying, “Months of investigation have turned into years, and the only thing to show for it is a bunch of lawyers who have gotten rich off the taxpayers’ dime.
“The people of Flint believe that they will never see justice, and sadly, so far they’ve been proven right,” Ananich said in a statement.