'This is not justice': Flint water crisis charges dropped against ex-state officials as residents fume

"Justice for Flint does not mean that the people responsible - all the way up to the governor's office, who are in charge, who allowed and made this happen, walk away free - with six-figure salaries," says Melissa Mays, Flint resident.

And that sums up how people in Flint are feeling after a judge threw out criminal charges against former state and city officials for their role in the Flint water crisis.

Tens of thousands of residents were exposed to dangerous levels of lead, and outbreaks of legionnaires disease killed at least 12 people and sickened dozens more.

The whole state said no to an emergency manager that the city of Flint ended up getting because our leaders lacked the political will to run our city," said resident Candice Mushatt. "So what happens when you have a court that lacks the will to get justice for a city - who takes them over?"

Genessee County Judge Elizabeth Kelly dropped the charges after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled the one-man grand jury used to indict the former officials was invalid – the evidence gathered against them, tainted.

Judge Elizabeth Kelly

Judge Elizabeth Kelly

The former officials who were charged were Jarrod Agen, Gerald Ambrose, Richard Baird, Darnell Earley, Nicolas Lyon, Nancy Peeler and Eden Wells.

"We’re ecstatic," said attorney Randall Levine. "But she did the right thing."

Levine represents Rich Baird – one of the officials now in the clear.

"Mr. Baird is ecstatic," he said. "He was wrongfully accused."

The water crisis began in 2014 when state-appointed emergency managers appointed by former Governor Rick Snyder took Flint off of a regional water system and began drawing from the Flint River to cut costs.

They never treated the water to lessen its corrosiveness--- and as it flowed through old pipes lead-filled water flow into people’s homes.

"We still drink, cook with, brush our teeth with, and try to wash our faces with bottled water," Mays said.

Eight years later and people still don’t trust Flint water.

More coverage: Michigan Supreme Court says indictments invalid in Flint water crisis, wipes charges against Snyder and others

Eight years after the Flint water crisis, resident Melissa Mays and her family still don't trust their tap water.

Eight years after the Flint water crisis, resident Melissa Mays and her family still don't trust their tap water.

Attorney General Dana Nessel got rid of the special prosecutor Todd Flood on the case when she took office in 2019 and appointed Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy to handle the prosecutions.

They released a statement saying:

"The prosecution has pledged to exhaust all available legal options to pursue this case and that pledge remains. The team will review today’s ruling and continue its pursuit of justice for Flint."

"You want to talk about justice for Flint? This is not it," Mays said. "You're the attorney general, you're the highest legal voice we have here, where is justice for Flint?"

"My hope in this is, if you are saying you are going to 'exhaust all legal possibilities' (is) that you do not come back to me a month later and say 'This was your last legal possibility,'" said Mushatt.

The state agreed to pay $600 million as part of a settlement with Flint residents but the Attorney General Dana Nessel's office said "Compensation is not the same as accountability for those who allegedly allowed an entire town to be poisoned. And it is not the same as justice."

Former Governor Rick Snyder was charged with two misdemeanors - but he was also indicted in the same process that the state supreme court says was illegal.

His next court hearing is Oct. 26.