Flint water prosecutors making progress on investigation six years after switch

Published: Apr. 17, 2020 at 12:48 PM EDT
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(4/17/2020) - The state's two top prosecutors leading the renewed Flint water crisis criminal investigation say they are making progress as the six-year anniversary approaches.

Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy launched a fresh investigation into possible criminal wrongdoing leading up to and after Flint's water switch in 2014.

On April 25, 2014, officials flipped a switch changing Flint's water source from the Great Lakes Water Authority in Detroit to the Flint River. The more corrosive river water was not treated adequately, allowing lead from water lines to leach into people's homes and poison residents.

Hammoud and Worthy issued a joint statement Friday pointing out that statutes of limitations vary by the alleged offenses and the date when they occurred. The six-year anniversary on April 25 is not a deadline to bring new charges, they say.

"Though we cannot comment on the specifics of our investigation, we remain on track, and we are delivering on our commitment to the people of Flint,” their statement says.

Former Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette launched an investigation in 2015 led by Special Prosecutor Todd Flood looking into possible criminal wrongdoing. Ten state and local government officials were charged and appeared in court.

After Schuette left office and current Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel took office on Jan. 1, 2019, she replaced the investigative team. They eventually dismissed all charges pending and launched a fresh investigation in 2019.

Nessel is working on civil lawsuits involving the state related to the water crisis while Hammoud and Worthy are leading the criminal investigation.

Here is the full statement from Hammoud and Worthy:

“As we approach six years since the water switch in Flint, we must remember the ongoing struggle of the people of Flint, and their resiliency in the face of a man-made disaster that will span generations. But they did not volunteer to serve as a cautionary tale of government gone wrong. This fate was imposed on them by a series of actions and inactions that created the historic injustice of the Flint Water Crisis. "From the outset, our team committed to a complete investigation of the Flint Water Crisis, using all investigative means at our disposal. We committed to professional prosecution of anyone criminally responsible for this man-made crisis and the resulting death, injury and trauma experienced by the people of Flint. Despite the challenges posed to our state by the COVID-19 pandemic, the current state of emergency will not prevent us from pursuing justice. "April 25, 2014, is a significant date in the history of the Flint Water Crisis. However, we want to correct the misconception that April 25, 2020 is the deadline to bring charges against those who may be criminally liable. Criminal statutes of limitations vary depending on the offense and the date of the alleged criminal act. Though we cannot comment on the specifics of our investigation, we remain on track, and we are delivering on our commitment to the people of Flint.”