Flint Investigators: Manslaughter Charges Possible
Other criminal charges, civil actions could also emerge, AG-appointed team says
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2016 12:46 PM CST
Michigan AG Bill Schuette, center, announces Todd Flood, right, and retired Detroit FBI chief Andrew Arena, left, to spearhead an investigation into Flint's lead-tainted water during a news conference...   (Dave Wasinger/Lansing State Journal via AP)

(Newser) – Michigan AG Bill Schuette formed a nine-person team in January to look into the Flint water crisis—including an ex-FBI head who came out of retirement for "the biggest case in the history of the state of Michigan," per MLive.com. Now the team's special counsel says the investigation may lead to criminal charges or civil actions, including manslaughter, the Detroit News reports. "We're here to investigate what possible crimes there are, anything [from] the involuntary manslaughter or death that may have happened to some young person or old person because of this poisoning, to misconduct in office," Todd Flood said Tuesday. At least nine people have died in Flint from Legionnaires' disease since the city's water switch-over in 2014, and it wouldn't be "far-fetched" for involuntary manslaughter charges to arise if those deaths or others are connected to "gross negligence" or "breach of duty," Flood told reporters. He also noted he could seek restitution for residents by going after private companies and government entities that may have contributed to the crisis.

But not everyone is so sure this is a great idea—or on the up-and-up. Some state lawmakers are complaining about the cost of the probe (each team member is getting an hourly rate between $20 and $400), and others are suspicious of the team's agenda, including that of Flood, who's contributed money to both Schuette and Gov. Rick Snyder. "Bill Schuette's 'independent investigation' seems more focused on rewarding campaign contributors with state contracts than getting to the bottom of why Flint's water was poisoned with lead," Common Cause Michigan's director said in a statement, per the News. But Schuette is moving forward. "To try to capture in words the tragedy of what occurred in Flint is almost beyond description." Schuette said. "My job as attorney general is to enforce the law, and we're going to determine what laws were violated." (The Washington Post documents some of the finger-pointing that's been going on.)