Criminal charges dismissed against former US governor in water crisis

9 killed in tainted water in US state of Michigan, exposed tens of thousands to dangerous levels of toxicity.

Criminal charges dismissed against former US governor in water crisis

A judge in the US state of Michigan dismissed charges against former Gov. Rick Snyder on Friday in the Flint water crisis. 

The crisis led to the deaths of nine people and exposed tens of thousands more to dangerous levels of toxicity in the city's water supply.

“The charges against (Snyder) were not properly brought and must be dismissed at this time,” Genesee County Judge F. Kay Behm said in the ruling, according to multiple media reports. The ruling came months after the state Supreme Court said indictments returned by a one-person grand jury were invalid.

Snyder, who left office in 2019, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of misconduct in office, becoming the first person in Michigan history to be charged for alleged crimes related to service as governor.

The Flint crisis began in 2014 when the water supply became tainted with lead after city managers, appointed by Snyder, began using the Flint River to save money while a new pipeline to Lake Huron was built.

The water was not treated to reduce its corrosive qualities, contaminating the water supply with lead and other toxic materials for more than a year.

The tainted water was blamed for nine deaths and linked to an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease. Tens of thousands of residents were exposed to toxic materials in the water causing many to become sick.

Flint residents complained about the water’s smell, taste and appearance, raising health concerns and reporting rashes, hair loss and other health problems.

Snyder did not acknowledge that lead was a problem until 17 months after the crisis began, in the fall of 2015, when he finally pledged to take action.

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission said the crisis was the result of systemic racism, doubting that the water switch and dismissal of complaints in the majority-Black city would have occurred in a white, prosperous community.

Snyder was the eighth person to have a Flint water case thrown out after the Supreme Court's unanimous decision in June.

The Michigan Attorney General's office has desperately tried to keep the cases alive but has lost every one brought forth.

Only one case is pending in the water scandal.