Michigan Gov. Snyder won't suspend officials charged in Flint water crisis

Posted at 2:34 PM, Jun 14, 2017

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said he is standing behind two state officials who were charged for their alleged role in the Flint water crisis.

Attorney General Bill Schuette announced Wednesday that Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon is charged with involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office.

Dr. Eden Wells, the MDHHS Chief Medical Executive was also charged with obstruction of justice and lying to a peace officer.

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

Snyder also said that he would not suspend either of them from their roles at the MDHHS.

According to Snyder, Lyon and Wells, "like every other person who has been charged with a crime by Bill Schuette, are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty."

An investigator's report released shortly before Schuette's news conference alleges that Lyon said he "can't save everyone," and "everyone has to die of something" in regard to the Legionnaires' disease outbreak in Genesee County.

Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich issued the following statement after the charges.

“These charges are an important step on a very long journey to getting justice for the people of Flint. I have said from the beginning that anyone who played a role in harming my city—no matter who—needs to be held accountable for their actions.

“I found it incredibly disappointing that the governor responded by defending staff rather than showing concern for Flint. His comments erode trust in government. No one, no matter how important their job, is above the law.”

Experts have linked the unsafe drinking water to an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Genesee County, the home to Flint.

In 2014 and 2015, there were more than 100 cases of Legionnaires' that left 12 people dead from the disease.

"The health crisis in Flint has created a trust crisis in Michigan government, exposing a serious lack of confidence in leaders to accept responsibility and solve problems," Schuette said. "The families of Flint have experienced a tragic health and safety crisis for the past three years. The children of Flint have been exposed to lead poisoning."

In all, Schuette has charged 15 people with dozens of crimes related to their alleged involvement in the city's water crisis.