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4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020

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Prosecutor outlines wrongful death complaint procedures amid threat to charge Whitmer

Posted at 5:49 AM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 18:22:36-05

(WXYZ) — Macomb County Prosecutor Pete Lucido is once again calling on family members of nursing home residents to speak up if they lost their loved ones during the pandemic.

On Thursday, Lucido walked people through how to submit a wrongful death complaint to local police. All this is in an effort to build a possible criminal case against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who used nursing homes as receiving hubs early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Lucido, a Republican, said due to HIPAA laws, he can't get that information on his own.

“Why did my mom or why did my dad, brother, sister, or aunt die? Was it because of the policy by bringing in COVID-infected patients that spread to my mom that killed my mother," Lucido said.

Last August, when he was still a state senator, he issued a statement, criticizing the governor's decision to bring COVID-19-positive patients into nursing homes, noting at the time more than 2,000 residents died along with 21 staff members.

Now, as prosecutor, he's trying to build a criminal case against her for possible charges of willful neglect of duty or reckless endangerment, he says.

“Nobody's above the law in this state," he said.

Shelby Township police say they've already received a complaint. Shortly after becoming prosecutor in January, Lucido asked other local prosecutors to help him build a case, but they declined, leaving it to the state or feds to investigate.

In May, the U.S. attorney told Lucido he would review his request, but AG Nessel's office said it didn't think his concerns warranted a criminal investigation.

Meanwhile, in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in hot water for undercounting the number of COVID-19 deaths in state nursing homes, and a fellow Democrat, Assemblyman Ron Kim, claimed Cuomo called him to threaten him if he didn't help with a cover-up. Cuomo is also facing several claims of sexual misconduct from former staffers.

“This is about people who passed away at the behest of a policy that was created by the governor," Lucido said.

The governor's office did release a lengthy statement, which you can read below.

Our top priority from the start has been protecting Michiganders, especially seniors and our most vulnerable. The administration’s policies carefully tracked CDC guidance on nursing homes, and we prioritized testing of nursing home residents and staff to save lives. Early in the pandemic, the state acted swiftly to create a network of regional hubs with isolation units and adequate PPE to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within a facility. In addition, we have offered 100 percent of nursing home resident priority access to the vaccine. Both the former head of AARP, as well as an independent U-M study, praised our work to save lives in nursing homes.

Mr. Lucido’s comments are shameful political attacks based in neither fact nor reality. Even his former colleague, Republican Sen. Ed McBroom, has said they "have not seen any evidence or testimony that says that a nursing home was forced to take someone against their will." And there’s a reason why Mr. Lucido’s colleagues have publicly rebuked this politically-motivated waste of taxpayer dollars. Michiganders are tired of these petty partisan games, and we won’t be distracted by them either.

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