Feb 15, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Charges against reporter arrested covering Ohio train derailment dismissed

Smoke rises from a derailed cargo train in East Palestine, Ohio, on February 4

Smoke rises from a derailed cargo train in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 4. Photo: Dustin Franz/AFP via Getty Images

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced Wednesday that the criminal charges against a reporter who was arrested while covering a press briefing on the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, have been dismissed.

Driving the news: NewsNation reporter Evan Lambert was conducting live coverage of a press conference by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) when police officers asked reporters to be quiet as DeWine was speaking.

  • Lambert stopped his live report and, moments later, images showed him on the ground being handcuffed as he was taken into police custody.
  • Police alleged that Lambert was talking loudly while DeWine was speaking and that he got into an argument with the Ohio National Guard commander. Lambert's attorney strongly rejected the police account and called claims that he was aggressive "patently false," per NewsNation.
  • Lambert faced misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass and resisting arrest.

State of play: “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 Wednesday.

  • Yost disputed claims that Lambert was trespassing, noting that he was "lawfully present" and that "his conduct was consistent with the purpose of the event and his role as a reporter.”
  • Yost noted that tensions were high in the days following the derailment and that local police officers were following the National Guard's lead.

The bottom line: “Regardless of the intent, arresting a journalist reporting at a press conference is a serious matter,” he added.

  • “Ohio protects a free press under its constitution, and state officials should remember to exercise a heightened level of restraint in using arrest powers.”

Go deeper: What we know about the Ohio train derailment

Go deeper