NewsNation reporter won’t be facing prosecution
=LISBON — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has announced that the criminal charges filed against NewsNation reporter Evan Lambert have been dismissed.
Lambert was charged with resisting arrest, a second-degree misdemeanor, and criminal trespass, a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Section was appointed by the Columbiana County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office 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.
“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 news 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 Nofolk Southern derailment and fire, 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.”
The reporter said in a statement Wednesday that he is grateful for who those worked to see that the charges were dismissed, including Gov. Mike DeWine.
“It is by design that reporters aren’t meant to become the story. In my case, I truly did not choose this,” Lambert said.
Lambert said in his statement Wednesday that he still was processing what was a traumatic event “in the context of a time where we are hyper-aware of how frequently some police interactions with people of color can end in much worse circumstances.”
When contacted about the dismissal of the case, East Palestine police Chief Jim Brown said he can’t comment on what the attorney general said or did because he had not seen the news release.
East Palestine police detective Dan Haueter filed the charges.
Once law enforcement files charges, Brown said it’s up to the prosecution at that point.
“The decision was made and it’s their job to make those decisions,” he said.
Brown noted that local law enforcement didn’t get involved with the confrontation between Lambert and the Ohio National Guard soldier until the altercation turned physical.
Video showing the encounter was posted on social media and by news agencies.
The (Lisbon) Morning Journal contributed to this report.