Dana Nessel’s office confirmed that state prosecution of ex-governor Rick Snyder and others related to the Flint water scandal has ended.
The water crisis in Flint
The city in Michigan faced a crisis in 2014 after it switched its drinking water supply from Detroit’s system to the Flint River to save money. Residents soon noticed changes but were initially ignored. However, researchers and doctors proved that the water was not safe.
From lead to Legionnaires’ disease
The Flint residents faced numerous health issues, from lead levels to Legionnaires’ disease. The residents were forced to take legal action. That prompted reactions, and officially, Flint got safe to drink water in April 2018. The next step was replacing the lead pipes.
Flint water crisis charges
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced an independent investigation in 2016. Due to this probe, 15 were charged “for causing or contributing to the crisis.” In September 2023, the state Supreme Court rejected an effort to restore criminal charges against seven people, including former Governor Rick Snyder.
After the Michigan state Supreme Court declined to hear appeals of a lower court’s dismissal of misdemeanor charges against Snyder, it “effectively closes the door on the criminal prosecutions of the government officials,” prosecutors confirmed in a statement.
The statement added, “At this time, the court has left us with no option but to consider the Flint water prosecutions closed.”
The ex-Governor was charged with “willful neglect of duty.” The charges were dismissed, and Snyder’s attorney, Brian Lennon, told The Associated Press that Snyder and his family are “encouraged by what appears to be a declaration by AG Nessel of the end of this political persecution of public officials.”
Previously, Snyder wished “this never happened”
The Republican invoked his right against self-incrimination in 2022. However, he commented, “I wish this never would have happened,” while discussing the Flint water crisis.
The prosecution is “disappointed”
The prosecution commented on the decision, “Our disappointment in the Michigan Supreme Court is exceeded only by our sorrow for the people of Flint.”
The full report
In 2024, the prosecution expects to see a “full and thorough report” regarding all decisions and details of the case.
$626 million settlement
In November 2021, a Judge approved a $626 million settlement filed by Flint residents. U.S. District Judge Judith Levy said during the hearing, “The settlement reached here is a remarkable achievement for many reasons, not the least of which is that it sets forth a comprehensive compensation program and timeline that is consistent for every qualifying participant.”
Accusations of environmental racism
Flint’s population was predominantly African American, according to 2010 data. This led civil rights advocates to portray the crisis as a result of environmental racism. Flint residents also claimed that racism was a contributing factor to the problem.
The media pressure
The media coverage of the Flint crisis pointed fingers at Snyder and “an obscene failure of government,” as the Detroit Free Press wrote. Vice News in 2020 allegedly presented evidence of corruption and a cover-up by Snyder and his “fixer” Rich Baird. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow heavily reported on the story.
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