On Friday night, prosecutors tried to explain to frustrated Flint residents why they dropped all the remaining criminal charges in the Flint water crisis investigation.
Two weeks ago, Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud announced the state was dropping charges against eight current and former government officials linked to Flint’s water crisis. Seven others had previously reached plea deals.
At Friday night’s town hall meeting in Flint, resident Claire McClinton described hearing that the charges were being dropped “like being hit in the back of the head with a two by four.”
Hammoud blamed the decision to drop the charges on the previous prosecution team for collecting only a fraction of the evidence available and allowing attorneys for state agencies to redact information.
“We know that you have concerns. We know that you have questions,” Hammoud told the 100 or so people at the UAW meeting hall. “And quite frankly we know that you’re angry.”
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy was brought in by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to assist with restarting the investigation into the Flint water Crisis.
Along with joining Hammoud in criticizing the evidence collection conducted by the previous team, Worthy also criticized the previous team for cutting plea deals with seven defendants, with no penalty, including some who had been charged with felonies.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Worthy told the audience. “That causes questions. Was this a real investigation?”
Former Attorney General Bill Schuette and former Special Counsel Todd Flood have both defended the probe initiated by the Attorney General in 2016.
Hammoud promised to pursue justice for Flint residents. The charges were dropped this month “without prejudice.” She says that will allow prosecutors to refile new criminal charges against them, as well as other possible defendants.
But prosecutors don’t have much time.
The statute of limitations for some charges expires in just nine months.
While most of the audience at Friday night’s town hall expressed support for restarting the investigation, some remain skeptical that Flint residents will get justice.