Wednesday, June 14, 2017, marks the 1,144th day since the residents of Flint, Michigan have had clean public drinking water and the announcement of an involuntary manslaughter charge by the Michigan attorney general against Nick Lyon, director of the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.
In what is the fourth round of criminal charges to be the result of an investigation into the Flint, Michigan water crisis that has been ongoing since April 14, 2014, Attorney General Bill Schuette announced the felony charge of involuntary manslaughter for both Nick Lyon, the highest-ranking state official charged to date.
In addition to the involuntary manslaughter charge, Lyon is also charged with misconduct in office, also a felony. Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Eden Wells, also of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, is charged with obstruction of justice and lying to a police officer.
Lyon’s involuntary manslaughter charge is based on his alleged failure to alert the public about an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease that occurred in the Flint area and has been linked by some experts to the poor water quality there in 2014 through 2015 and resulted in the deaths of 12 people. The Health and Human Services Department director faces a potential of 15 years in prison if convicted.
Four other governmental officials have previously been charged with involuntary manslaughter also as a result of the Legionnaire’s disease outbreak deaths: DEQ drinking water official Stephen Busch, former City of Flint Water Department manager Howard Croft, former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley and former Michigan Department of Environmental Quality drinking water chief Liane Shekter-Smith.
Schuette explained that currently there are no criminal charges pending for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, but that the investigation is ongoing, but attempts by the state attorney general’s office to interview Snyder have been unsuccessful to date.
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