Prosecutors who dropped charges against eight people in the Flint water scandal explained their decision in a public forum Friday night, telling frustrated and shocked residents they must look at hundreds of mobile devices and millions of documents that a previous investigative team never reviewed.
Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy spoke to about 100 residents Friday night at a union hall in the city, two weeks after dismissing charges against the former state health director and other officials. The three-year probe was relaunched, and charges could be refiled.
"We have received information that is absolutely relevant to our investigation that we have never had before," said Hammoud, who took over the investigation of Flint's lead-contaminated water in January following the election of Democrat Dana Nessel.
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Hammoud cited the need to review 20 million documents and said the new criminal team uncovered in months, with search warrants, what previous investigators had not retrieved in years.
The prosecutors criticized how their predecessors gave seven other officials plea deals resulting in no jail time or criminal records.
"I've never seen anything like it," said Worthy, who also joined the criminal team.
Some residents were shocked the statute of limitations for one felony crime, misconduct in office, could expire in nine months. One woman criticized prosecutors for waiting two weeks to come to Flint, leading them to apologize.
Other residents thanked the new prosecutors, agreeing the prior probe was inadequate.