Nineteen-year-old Sasha Avonna Bell, a Flint mother who was one of the first to sue over the water crisis, was found shot to death inside a townhouse earlier this week. The body of a second woman, Sacorya Reed, was also found in the home. NY Daily News reports that an infant was found uninjured, but it’s not clear if that was Bell’s son. He was taken into custody by child protective services. Flint police say they have a person in custody in connection to the slayings. No charges have yet been filed, nor has the motive been revealed.
Bell’s lawsuit, on behalf of the thousands of children who have been poisoned by the water, alleges that her 16-month-old son suffers from lead poisoning because of “corporate and government misconduct.”
“She just wanted what was best for her son,” her New York-based lawyer, Corey M. Stern, told the Daily News on Friday following her tragic death. “She loved her son.”
Stern said that Bell’s lawsuit will go on, despite her death. “It’s really her son’s case,” he told the News.
— The Root (@TheRoot) April 22, 2016
“Sasha was a lovely young woman who cared deeply for her family, and especially for her young child,” said her attorney. “Her tragic and senseless death has created a void in the lives of so many people that loved her. Hopefully, her child will be lifted up by the love and support from everyone who cared deeply for Sasha.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for funeral costs.
Bell’s case was one of 64 lawsuits filed on behalf of 144 children by Stern’s firm, New York-based Levy Konigsberg, and Flint-based Robinson Carter & Crawford. The lawsuit named “six companies and three individual government, or former government, employees who played significant roles in the alleged misconduct that lead to the contamination of the water,” which inevitably caused the water crisis. Bell’s case inspired others to file suits. Stern is representing approximately 1,000 Flint children, each with a unique case, and will not be handled as a class action suit.
“There’s not a lot of foot traffic, the restaurants are empty,” Stern said of the city. “It’s a community that’s suffered from some serious trauma. I’ve met thousands of people in three months going back and forth, and they are resilient. Communities get torn apart or come together, and I think they have come together.”
WATCH RELATED VIDEO ABOVE: Five facts about the Flint Water Crisis.
On Wednesday of this week, three Michigan officials were charged in connection with the Flint water crisis, charges that stem from the lead contamination “which occurred after the city tapped the corrosive Flint River as a drinking supply and failed to properly treat the water.” The criminal charges come just a day after a federal judge threw out a $150 million class-action lawsuit over the contaminated water.
Two officials from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and one individual from the Flint water treatment plant have been suspended without pay, following the charges against them, Gov. Rick Snyder confirmed, via the Detroit Free Press.
Detroit Free Press reporter Elisha Anderson tweeted that, “MDEQ district engineer Michael Prysby was hit with six charges, including misconduct in office, tampering with evidence, conspiracy to tamper with evidence, and engaging in treatment violations.”
Flint water crisis is now a criminal case: 3 charged with misconduct, evidence-tampering and other offenses. https://t.co/5cZ6OAnjkZ
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 21, 2016
The flint water crisis continues to draw the attention of many prominent people, including President Obama. Many actors, musicians, and athletes have also made sizable donations of either money or clean water to the relief effort, per Newsweek. Most recently, rappers Common and Malik Yusef released the “Trouble in the Water” music video, which sheds light on the water crisis not only in Flint, but around the world.
[Image via AP Photo]