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Flint Mayor Ousts Police Chief, Fire Chief, And City Administrator

Whether the city officials resigned or were fired depended on who was asked Friday as Flint, Michigan, continues to grapple with the fallout of a water contamination scandal.

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The police chief, fire chief, and city administrator of Flint, Michigan, were ousted Friday in what Mayor Karen Weaver called a restructuring to help the city move past its water contamination scandal.

"Mayor Weaver has determined the city needs fresh faces in place with new ideas to help Flint move forward," according to a statement from her office to local media.

There were differing accounts of how that change was brought about, however.

According to the mayor's office, Weaver accepted the resignations of Police Chief James Tolbert and Fire Chief David Cox Jr. However, the men told local ABC affiliate WJRT they were unexpectedly fired.

"Decisions were made and they're above my pay grade," Tolbert told the station Friday afternoon. "I am and will always be a servant of the citizens and unfortunately this is part of the job."

City Administrator Natasha Henderson was also removed from her position.

Flint has been battling a water crisis after it switched its supply from Detroit's municipal system to the Flint River in order to save money. The move, however, resulted in dangerously high levels of lead.

The city now faces multiple lawsuits after children tested for high levels of lead in their blood.

The crisis has put city and state officials under intense scrutiny as to timeline of what officials knew about the dangers of the contaminated water.

On Friday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said he would testify before Congress, a decision reached after his office released more than 24,000 pages of emails and documents surrounding the crisis.

Tolbert and Cox were appointed by in 2013 by state emergency managers while the city was under state financial oversight, according to the Associated Press. In January, Weaver was given the authority to appoint city department heads as the Flint transitioned away from that oversight.

The mayor's office did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.


Salvador Hernandez is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Salvador Hernandez at salvador.hernandez@buzzfeed.com.

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