A special prosecutor on Monday, Oct. 9, filed additional charges against Michigan’s chief medical officer, accusing her of involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office in the devastating Flint water crisis.
The announcement came during a court hearing for Dr. Eden Wells on other charges related to the contamination crisis, The Detroit News reported. Prosecutor Todd Flood of the state’s attorney general’s office said the new charges were spurred by “new revelations” stemming from testimony during a preliminary hearing last week against Heath and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, who’s also charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Flood declined to say what those revelations were, however.
“I really can’t get into the details of it, but I think we’d be derelict if we didn’t charge her,” Flood told reporters after the hearing. “Based on a new review of other documents and testimony that came out last week, we believe that discovery put us in this place.”
Five other people, including Lyon, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s drinking water chief Liane Shekter-Smith, Office of Drinking Water supervisor Stephen Busch, Flint’s former water department manager Howard Croft and ex-emergency manager Darnell Early, have been charged in connection to a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Flint from 2014-15. The attorney general’s office said officials knew about the uptick in Legionnaire’s cases but didn’t notify the public until 2016.
In addition to manslaughter, Wells was also charged with obstruction of justice and making a false statement related to the outbreak, which was linked to 12 deaths and 79 illnesses, according to the newspaper. The obstruction charge carries a sentence of up to two years in prison while manslaughter could result in a 15-year prison stint and a $7,500 fine.
The Legionnaires probe is part of the larger investigation into how Flint’s water supply became tainted after the city began drawing water from the Flint River in April 2014. Many have blamed the outbreak on the water supply switch, as lead from old pipes leached into the water supply and sickened thousands.
Wells’ next hearing has been rescheduled for Nov. 6.