Charges Against NewsNation Reporter in East Palestine Dismissed
LISBON, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost today announced that the criminal charges filed against NewsNation reporter Evan Lambert have been dismissed.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Section was appointed by the Columbiana County Prosecuting Attorney to handle the charges filed in Columbiana County Municipal Court.
“My office has reviewed the relevant video and documentary evidence, and is dismissing the charges against Evan Lambert as unsupported by sufficient evidence,” Yost said in a statement.
Rail cars carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine on Feb. 3, causing havoc within the community. A decision was made to evacuate residents within a mile circumference of the accident.
Simultaneously, another decision was made to conduct a controlled release of toxic chemicals into the air to prevent a possible explosion in one of the cars.
The derailment and fire attracted national coverage, and Lambert was in East Palestine covering a press conference hosted by Gov. Mike DeWine.
Yost added that tensions were running high in the days following the train derailment and that local officials appeared to be following the lead of the National Guard.
During DeWine’s press conference, Lambert was attempting to broadcast a live report from the back of a gymnasium where the event was held. When he was told to either quiet down or leave the gym, the reporter refused. After allegedly shoving an officer, he was arrested.
Lambert was charged with resisting arrest, a second-degree misdemeanor, and criminal trespass, a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
“While journalists could conceivably be subject to criminal charges for trespassing in some situations, this incident is not one of them,” Yost said. “The reporter was lawfully present at a press conference called by the governor of the state. His conduct was consistent with the purpose of the event and his role as a reporter.”
“Regardless of the intent, arresting a journalist reporting at a press conference is a serious matter,” Yost continued. “Ohio protects a free press under its constitution, and state officials should remember to exercise a heightened level of restraint in using arrest powers.”
Pictured at top: An image taken from video and provided by Newsnation/TMX shows reporter Evan Lambert being taken into police custody on Feb. 8 in East Palestine. (Newsnation TMX via AP)
Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.