Several Michigan state officials, including those who reported to Gov. Rick Snyder, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with a Legionnaires’ outbreak that killed 12 people during the Flint water crisis, the Michigan attorney general’s office announced Wednesday.
Charges were announced for five state and city officials, including Nick Lyon, the current director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley, who had previously been charged, also now faces involuntary manslaughter, along with three other lower-ranking officials, according to the attorney general’s office.
Another high-ranking state health department official, Dr. Eden Wells, was charged Wednesday with obstruction of justice and lying to an officer.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services had no comment when asked about the employment status of Lyon and Wells, who are both still listed on the department website under executive bios.
At a news conference, Attorney General Bill Schuette told reporters the announcement is about restoring accountability and trust.
“That arrogance that people would want to sweep this away and that there are nameless, faceless bureaucrats who caused this and no one responsible is outrageous,” he said adding that this is proof the system is working.
“It’s hard to be surprised anymore,” Flint Mayor Karen Weaver told CNN. “We’ve been waiting for some accountability since this crisis started so we’re glad that justice is playing out.”
In all,15 people have been charged as a result of Schuette’s ongoing investigation into the Flint water crisis.
“Today’s announcement that additional state officials will face criminal charges is an indictment of the state’s failed policies that led to this crisis,” Congressman Dan Kildee, a Democrat of Flint Township, said in a statement.
Some of the charges deal with lead poisoning, and the reason the city changed its water supply, while others deal with the spread of Legionnaires’ connected to the crisis. Other charges range from willful neglect of duty, misconduct and conspiracy.
Wednesday marked the first time charges of involuntary manslaughter were brought.
Kildee noted that the crisis is not over yet. “The state and the Governor created this crisis and they must do more to help Flint’s recovery.”