Michigan Health Chief to Stand Trial
Sheri L. Stuart, Staff Writer
A judge has ruled that Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon should face trial in the deaths of two men during a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak amid Flint’s water crisis. Lyon is accused of failing to alert the public about the outbreak in a timely manner. 67th District Court Judge David Goggins ruled Lyon should stand trial for felony charges, including involuntary manslaughter related to the city’s water crisis. Lyon has denied any wrongdoing, but prosecutors successfully argued that Lyon waited too long to alert the public about an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. The health director allegedly knew about the outbreak in early 2015 but waited almost a year before altering the public. Lyon is set to go to trial in Genesee County Circuit Court on two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of misconduct in office.
In response to the judge’s ruling, Mayor Karen Weaver’s office issued the following statement:
“The residents of Flint have been waiting to feel like their lives matter. We cannot ever recover the time spent trying to understand the extent of this tragedy, nor make up for the trauma both mentally and physically behind this man-made crisis. The people of Flint have been traumatized by the actions, or lack of actions, by State officials. This is a good step on the road to recovery and healing for the people of Flint. I hope that the State continues to be held accountable for the State’s decisions. What happened in Flint cannot and should not happen anywhere else in this country, especially in the state of Michigan. This sends the message that lives are more important than dollars and to consider people over both profit and policy.”- Mayor Karen W. Weaver.
State Representative Sheldon Neeley said the judge’s ruling was an important step forward for the residents of Flint, and issued the following statement:
“For years, I have been calling on Director Lyon to step down or be removed from his post, as he has proven time and again he is incapable of protecting Michigan residents. Instead, he has been protected by Gov. Rick Snyder, even as people died on his watch. Today’s decision is a meaningful step toward long-awaited justice for the people of Flint and those who lost their lives due to Lyon’s poor leadership, and a clear sign that he should no longer be heading the state’s Health and Human Services Department. As we endure this humanitarian crisis, I will continue speaking out against the Snyder-Schuette administration and insist that those responsible for harming our community are held accountable. Only when the people of Flint receive the justice they deserve will we finally be able to work toward finding healing in our community. That is why I am calling on all elected officials, clergy members and community members to stand in support of Flint as we continue to mobilize for our ongoing fight for justice.” — State Rep. Sheldon Neeley