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Criminal Justice & Legal System

WSU prof testifies state officials 'did not want to find more legionella'

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steve carmody
/
Michigan Radio
WSU professor Shawn McElmurry testifies during the preliminary exam for MDHHS director Nick Lyon

A Wayne State University professor testified today that the state health department director worried a study of a deadly Legionnaires' disease outbreak would upset the public.

At least a dozen people died during the outbreak from 2014 to 2015 in Genesee County.  

WSU Enviornmental Engineering Prof. Shawn McElmurry was part of a team of researchers studying the outbreak in 2016.  However, on the stand today, McElmurry testified that their efforts to collect samples from Flint residents’ homes ran into resistance from state officials, including Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director Nick Lyon.

McElmurry recounted several meetings with state officials between May and August, 2016.

McElmurry says Lyon and other state officials were particularly concerned about the researchers’ plans to collect water filters Flint residents were using to screen out lead in their tap water.

“(Lyon) didn’t want to upset the public,” McElmurry testified, adding “(They) did not want to find more legionella.”

A judge will decide if there is enough evidence to send an involuntary manslaughter charge against Nick Lyon to trial.

Lyon’s defense attorney frequently objected during McElmurry’s testimony, complaining many statements amounted to hearsay. 

Lyon is one of 13 current and former government officials criminally charged in connection with the Flint water crisis.  

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