Flint Michigan, (TFC)– It’s been nearly a month since two Flint Water Crisis investigators were found dead within day’s of one another. Although a vague explanation surfaced for one of the deceased, a pandora’s box of questions remains unsatisfied. In lieu of official answers, the familiar ring of conspiracy chatter has encroached to fill the void. What are we to make of all this, and will closure come with officials facing charges?
First came Flint Water Treatment Plant foreman Matthew Mcfarland, found dead at this home. According to the Amsterdam Times, Mcfarland was found in his home, after being interviewed for the investigation. Initially, authorities suspected foul play though couldn’t confirm how he died.
Recently, investigators were able to determine drug intoxication, coupled with a heart condition, as the cause of death. According to MLive, the 43 year old died after high levels of a drug mixture, and remains filed as “indeterminate”, remaining an ongoing investigation.
Mcfarland died as Flint Utilities Manager Michael Glasgow was charged with willful neglect of office, after falsifying test results. Unfortunately, officials were still investigating Mcfarland when a second Flint investigator was found snuffed out.
One of the first to file a lawsuit due to the water crisis, Sasha Avonna Bell was found shot dead in her home days after Mcfarland, at just 19. Police say Bell was gunned down in a double murder, the second victim being Sacorya Renee Reed. Additionally, a one year old was discovered and taken into child services. Although the child remains unidentified, Bell claimed her child was affected by Flints high lead levels. According to Mlive, Bell’s case will continue and a representative will be assigned to her child.
Flint police eventually arrested Malek Emmanuel Thornton, reputedly a disgruntled lover of Bell’s, and charged him with first degree. It is unknown at this time whether a statement by Thornton was ever obtained by media, either directly or passed from police.
A day later, the first charges against government officials were filed, and the drama climaxed. While Mcfarlands death is still under investigation, the Bell case has gone cold despite the timing of both deaths.
Bell’s lawsuit named 6 companies tasked with the upkeep of Flint’s water system, and is among 64 others. According to Amsterdam Times, her case bounced from Genesee circuit court to a US district court, then back to state court. Disturbing consequences of exposure to the contaminated water continue surfacing by the day, and residents have yet to find reparations.
Two Department of Environmental Quality officials, Stephen Busch and Michael Prysby, were among those charged over the water’s lead levels. According to Reuters, both plead not guilty after being charged with misconduct in office, tampering with evidence, and violation of Michigan’s Safe Drinking Water Act. Michael Glasgow, charged after Matthew Mcfarland was found dead, faces up to five years in prison and, unlike some other officials, isn’t listed as having an attorney in court documents.
Even Michigan Governor Rick Snyder isn’t exempt from inquisition, with many calling for his judgement. Snyder’s legal fee’s, USA Today reports, cost taxpayers $6500 a day, and nearly $400,000 was spent in February and March. Certain details on Snyder’s case are difficult to gleam, as his office is immune to FOIA requests. According to USA Today, pending legislation may soon change this, but for now, a lock-out continues. Governor Snyder’s use of taxpayer dollars, instead of legal defense or campaign funds, has raised controversy as well. Billing records released via FOIA requests, USA Today reports, “blacked out” all descriptions for the work Snyder is billed for.
Updates will continue as more research on the human cost of Flint’s crisis is done, and officials are brought to court. Whether or not justice for Bell or Mcfarland is inevitable remains unclear, especially with authorities discounting most notions of conspiratorial foul play. Flint’s crisis, due to it’s political implications, is quite timely. It would be a shame if it were to be buried in the media slush, silent as Bell and Mcfarland.