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MI health chief charged in Flint water probe

26 Juin 2017

The chief of MI state's health department and four others were charged with involuntary manslaughter Wednesday over the Flint water contamination scandal, the most serious criminal offenses leveled so far. If convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Lyon could face 15 years in prison.

Convincing a jury that the officials' failure to disclose the risk of Legionnaires' disease caused a death would be hard, Wayne State University law professor Peter Henning said. The director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Nick Lyon, along with Busch, Earley, Croft, and Shekter-Smith, who are state and city officials, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter. He is accused of failing to alert the public about an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in the Flint area, which has been linked by some experts to poor water quality in 2014-15.

In an effort to save money, Flint begins drawing water from the Flint River for its 100,000 residents, instead of relying on water from Detroit. Specifically, the charge stems from the death of 85-year-old Robert Skidmore, who contracted Legionnaires' disease as a result of lead exposure.

Wednesday's charges are part of the criminal investigation into how Flint's water system became poisoned after officials tapped the Flint River in 2014.

PLUTA: Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says it's time officials who made decisions that led to the water crisis are held accountable.

Schuette and his team are taking this matter seriously by bringing such serious charges against those who they believe didn't do enough to address this public health threat, or to alert the Flint community about it.

PLUTA: The outbreak which caused a dozen deaths occurred not long after the city switched water supplies.

In addition to the manslaughter charge, Lyon faces a charge of official misconduct for ordering a staffer to stop a study that would have determined the source of the outbreak.

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"Director Lyon and Dr. Wells have been and continue to be instrumental in Flint's recovery", Snyder said in a release.

March 23, 2016: A governor-appointed panel concludes that the state of MI is "fundamentally accountable" for the crisis because of decisions made by environmental regulators.

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission wrote a report blaming "systemic racism" that caused the water crisis. Officials haven't definitely linked the water switch to the disease, but Schuette and his investigators have come close to doing so in public statements and documents related to the criminal charges.

Dr. Eden Wells is charged with obstruction of justice and lying to a police officer. Legionnaire's is a type of pneumonia that, if left untreated, can cause death.

Mr Lyon is alleged to have known for almost a year of the deadly outbreak and had "deliberately failed to inform the public" which resulted in Mr Skidmore's death.

"We fully have faith in our justice system in this state and we expect Nick to be vindicated entirely of these baseless charges", said Chip Chamberlain; Lyon's attorney.

The city's water quality gained national attention after lead leaked into Flint's pipes. "The families of Flint have experienced a tragic, tragic health and safety crisis for the past three years". "The children of Flint have been exposed to lead poisoning".

February 17: The Michigan Civil Rights Commission issues a report that finds "systemic racism" going back decades is at the core of problems that caused the water crisis in the majority black city of Flint.

MI health chief charged in Flint water probe