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Michigan drops charges in Flint water probe, pledges new investigation

Flint, Michigan water plant
Photo: ehrlif/Getty Images

Michigan's attorney general announced the state is dropping cases against the 8 former and current officials accused of not alerting the public about the safety of drinking water in Flint, and will launch a new investigation from scratch, reports the New York Times.

The big picture: Prosecutors, who say the scope of the investigation expanded after they received millions of new documents this week, said "missteps" by the previous attorney general's office contributed to this decision, per the Times. Some Flint residents who have long sought justice told the Times that the dropping of all charges could reopen fresh wounds and signal that their crisis is being "forgotten."

"Our team’s efforts have produced the most comprehensive body of evidence to date related to the Flint water crisis. We are now in the best possible position to find the answers the citizens of Flint deserve and hold all responsible parties accountable."
— Statement from prosecutors

Backdrop: Flint's drinking water has significantly improved, but residents are still wary.

  • The criminal investigations started 3 years ago, with 15 officials initially charged. Of those officials, 7 pleaded no contest to misdemeanors and are likely to have their records wiped.
  • Michigan's former health director Nick Lyon was charged with involuntary manslaughter and for not alerting the public about the contaminated water in a timely manner, per the AP. Prosecutors said it is possible that Lyon and others could be charged again.