Charges dismissed against NewsNation reporter in East Palestine


LISBON, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said 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 Wednesday 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.

He pushed to the ground and handcuffed while covering a news conference had a heated confrontation with the leader of the Ohio National Guard just before the reporter was arrested, body-camera footage showed.

Lambert said afterward that he was just trying to do his job, according to an Associated Press story.

Body-camera footage released by the Ohio State Highway Patrol showed Maj. Gen. John Harris Jr., commander of the state’s national guard, talking with a camera operator before a state trooper motioned to stop the live shot. Police said Lambert was talking loudly while on the air from the back of the gym where DeWine was speaking at the same time.

Harris started to walk away before he turned around, confronted and pointed a finger at Lambert and then briefly pushed the reporter with one hand in the chest, the body-camera footage showed. Lambert was also pointing and talking to Harris. A state trooper then stepped in between the two and moved away the commander, the footage showed.

Harris later told police the reporter was coming at him in an aggressive manner and he felt threatened.

“I instinctively put my hands on his chest to keep him from bumping into me, which I felt was inevitable if I had not protected myself,” Harris said in a statement made to investigators and provided by his office. He declined Thursday to comment beyond his statements to police.

Authorities said that after the confrontation, Lambert was told to leave the news conference but refused several times. Officers then pulled him toward the exit and told him he was under arrest.

Body-camera footage showed Lambert pull away from two officers who then pushed him to the floor and handcuffed him.

“This is what it’s like to be a Black reporter in 2023,” Lambert said while he was being held down, according to the footage.

The two officers who handcuffed Lambert are white as is the Columbiana County sheriff who ordered Lambert to leave. Both Lambert and Harris, the national guard commander who is a member of the governor’s cabinet, are Black.

Lambert and NewsNation officials did not say in their statements afterward that race was a factor in the arrest.

Lambert, who spent about five hours in jail before being released on a bond, said “no journalist expects to be arrested when you’re doing your job, and I think that’s really important that that doesn’t happen in our country,”

Michael Corn, president of news for NewsNation, said that the videos and body camera footage of the arrest speak for themselves.

“Evan acted professionally and at a minimum is owed an apology,” Corn said.

DeWine, who as governor was at the news conference giving an update about the derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals, said he did not authorize the arrest or even see the disagreement, adding that reporters have “every right” to report during briefings.

No posts to display