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Michigan solicitor general hopes Flint water charges provide some healing

Why did it take 18 months to reinstate criminal charges and how come the former Governor is only facing two misdemeanors?
Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 5:26 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (1/15/2021) - The woman behind the charges brought against former Governor Snyder and others in the Flint Water Crisis spoke one-on-one with ABC12 Friday.

“This is just a small piece. In no way do I think that this would remedy everything, but it’s a small -- this is what we can do in terms of doing our part, the criminal justice system,” Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud shared.

It’s been two years since her team took over the Flint Water Criminal Investigation.

The two biggest questions we’ve heard the Flint community asking and made sure to pose to Hammoud -- why did it take 18 months to reinstate criminal charges and how come the former Governor is only facing two misdemeanors?

“I am not entitled to anything from the people, but they are entitled to an investigation that is thorough, that is complete. And that is what I can do. That is what I can promise. And I know that that’s what we have done,” she explained.

ABC12′s Ann Pierret asked the Solicitor General if she can understand the disappointment the Flint community feels after learning former Governor Rick Snyder, who they consider responsible for the City’s water crisis, is facing the smallest potential penalty?

“I can never say that somebody, especially the citizens of Flint, don’t have the right to feel what they’re feeling about anything; because, no one can comprehend what this community has went through,” she answered.

Hammoud explained her team, which took over in 2019, worked countless hours, some 90-hour weeks, to examine every piece of evidence. She shared that their investigation included executing a search warrant on her own office to obtain evidence from the civil side of the Attorney General’s Office and executing a search warrant on more than 600 electronic devices. Hammoud added they also obtained and reviewed more than 20-million documents.

“So before starting a grand jury, it was so important we have one shot at this,” she said. “We are going to give it our all and not take any shortcuts. And, that’s exactly what we did.”

Hammoud has long been a critic of the previous investigation that began in 2016, so ABC12 asked if their three years of work served as a building block for her new team?

“We didn’t take a previous investigation, put it in categories and say, alright, these are the people who’ve been identified, because we’ve identified different people. We said we’re gonna go where the evidence would lead us. And at the end of the day, a grand jury had to evaluate this evidence and found probable cause for the crimes that these defendants have been now arraigned on,” Hammoud explained.

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