*Attached video: NewsNation reporter arrested at DeWine’s news conference
EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WJW) – The criminal charges filed against NewsNation reporter Evan Lambert have been dismissed, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced Wednesday.
Lambert had been reporting on the derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals, a story that has sparked questions about potential threats to the environment and health of residents.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was speaking in the gymnasium during a press conference on February 8 when Lambert was giving a live report during NewsNation’s “Rush Hour.”
He was told by law enforcement personnel at the news conference to be quiet because DeWine had started speaking. Lambert finished the live report but was then asked to leave by authorities, who tried to forcibly remove him from the event.
A statement from the East Palestine Police Department says officers attempted to “deescalate the situation” by asking Lambert to step outside. Lambert refused, saying he was doing his job and wanted to listen to what DeWine had to say.
Video below shows an overhead angle of the incident that took place in a school gym while DeWine was speaking on one end of the large room and Lambert, in a live shot, on the other end.
The statement says Lambert was taken to the ground during a struggle “in an effort to maintain control” of Lambert and “while preventing injury to the involved parties.”
“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 press release. “While journalists could conceivably be subject to criminal charges for trespassing in some situations, this incident is not one of them. 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.”
Yost added that tensions were running high in the days following the derailment and that local officials appeared to be following the lead of the National Guard.
“Regardless of the intent, arresting a journalist reporting at a press conference is a serious matter,” Yost said. “Ohio protects a free press under its constitution, and state officials should remember to exercise a heightened level of restraint in using arrest powers.”
Lambert was charged with resisting arrest, a second-degree misdemeanor, and criminal trespass, a fourth-degree misdemeanor.