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Officials could face criminal and civil charges for failure to warn Flint, Michigan residents of lead poisoning in the drinking water, state special counsel, Todd Flood, told reporters last week. Appointed by the State Attorney-General to investigate the case, Flood suggested that some people could face involuntary manslaughter charges if linked to recent deaths, as suspected.
Flood gave no time frame for the investigation, according to The Detroit News. "We're here to investigate what possible crimes there are, anything to the involuntary manslaughter or death that may have happened to some young person or old person because of this poisoning, to misconduct in office. We take this very seriously."
Better Late Than Never?
Michigan officials are scrambling to seem proactive, having previously ignored the lead poisoning problem they are now reacting to. There's reason to scramble. Apart from the AG's special counsel's investigation, there are already other cases being filed against state and local officials in courts, as the impact of lead poisoning on children in Flint has been quick, and the outrage widespread.
Lawyers have already filed complaints of injury from lead poisoning on behalf of individual kids, as well as class actions. And the action is just starting, as special counsel Flood says.
He and the investigative team are still trying to untangle who knew what and when. Flood's investigation will target private and public agents, anyone who has breached a duty to Flint residents may end up paying restitution, he said.
Paying for Top Shelf
For now, it is Michigan that is paying, namely for this investigation, using a team of 9 full-time staff including former police officers. The investigators will reportedly make as little as $20 an hour, while Flood, the special prosecutor, will be earning 20 times that amount, at $400 an hour. Attorney General Bill Schuette has assembled what he calls a "top shelf" team.
But Flood and his investigators do not yet know how long it will take or where the trails will lead, it seems. In other words, the waters are still very murky when it comes to the contaminated water crisis in Flint.
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