Rick Snyder Arraigned on Neglect Charges for Flint Water Disaster

Rick Snyder Arraigned on Neglect Charges for Flint Water Disaster

The new set of charges names many of the same officials, including Nick Lyon, the former state health director, and Dr. Eden Wells, the state’s former chief medical officer. Each was charged with nine counts of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of residents who contracted Legionnaires’ disease.

Michigan state officials were aware of an increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases, a form of pneumonia caused by waterborne bacteria, and a possible tie to Flint’s troubled water supply at least 10 months before Mr. Snyder informed the public of the situation in early 2016, email messages indicate.

The water crisis, which resulted in elevated lead levels among thousands of people in Flint, has left countless families distrustful of the water supply, even as city officials insist that it is now safe to drink. In late 2015, the city switched the water supply back to its old source, Lake Huron. Yet some Flint residents said there was nothing that could be done to restore residents’ confidence in their government.

Kaleka Lewis, 48, who works at Greater Holy Temple Church of God in Christ, where the water bottles were being distributed on Thursday, said that everyone in her family has been affected with rashes and other ailments caused by Flint’s water.

“There is no charge that makes up for all these people being hurt,” she said. “People have been hurt for a long time. The trust is gone for me and all these people. The charges are just a Band-Aid.”

Others said they were relieved to see that Mr. Snyder, a former businessman who left office in 2019, was among those who were criminally charged.

In an indictment, prosecutors said that Mr. Snyder, who was charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty, had failed to check the “performance, condition and administration” of his staff and neglected his duty to protect the public from harm. Brian Lennon, a lawyer for Mr. Snyder, said that the former governor was not guilty of the charges and called the investigation “an outrageous political persecution.” Mr. Snyder is a Republican; the investigation was led by the Michigan attorney general’s office, held by a Democrat.

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