NewsNation reporter arrested during a news conference after Ohio law enforcement told him to stop his live broadcast
A NewsNation correspondent was arrested Wednesday after he began reporting live during a news conference held by Ohio authorities regarding a train derailment — an arrest the network says happened after he was told to stop speaking during the governor’s remarks.
Law enforcement officers interrupted NewsNation correspondent Evan Lambert as he broadcast from the event, where authorities announced they were lifting a multiday evacuation order near the site of a fiery weekend derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. The officers arrested him soon after he got off the air, the outlet reported.
Gov. Mike DeWine later expressed concern about the arrest and his office said he wasn’t aware of it as it happened. Lambert was released from a county jail on bail Wednesday night.
“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,” Lambert told his network in an aired interview after his release.
East Palestine police officers arrested Lambert for criminal trespass and resisting arrest, Columbiana County Sheriff Brian McLaughlin told CNN, without elaborating. Lambert, however, indicated he faced charges of criminal trespass and disorderly conduct, according to a statement from NewsNation’s Washington Bureau Chief Mike Viqueira.
Lambert had paperwork saying “there are still charges pending against me,” he told NewsNation after his release.
“I see no reason why the charges would be dropped but that is in the Prosecutors Office hands at this point,” McLaughlin told CNN in a statement Thursday morning.
CNN’s efforts to reach East Palestine police for comment weren’t immediately successful.
The news conference was scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., but was delayed until about 5 p.m., NewsNation reported. DeWine began speaking just as Lambert was scheduled to begin his live broadcast, the outlet said.
The broadcast shows Lambert ended his live report abruptly, saying, “We’re actually being told we need to stop broadcasting because this news conference is behind us.” The correspondent then quickly signed off the air.
Law enforcement officers then asked Lambert to leave, NewsNation reported.
Cell phone video provided by NewsNation shows several law enforcement officers surrounding Lambert near the door of the gymnasium, blocking him from walking further into the room and trying to get him to leave.
Two officers eventually grab Lambert by the arms and push him out of the gym, video shows. The officers then put him on the ground and handcuff him. Lambert can be heard identifying himself as a reporter.
The correspondent initially was detained in the Columbiana County Jail, Viqueira said.
“As you see from the videos, he was doing his job — what hundreds of journalists do without incident — reporting to the public on a matter of urgent, critical interest to our audience,” Viqueira said.
The governor did not see Lambert’s arrest happen, but was later told that a reporter was asked to end his broadcast because “the volume of his reporting was perceived to be interfering with the event,” his office said in a statement after the news conference.
“Governor DeWine did not request that the reporter stop his live broadcast, nor did he know that the request was being made,” his office said. “Because the governor did not witness what occurred after the broadcast ended, we cannot provide comment on what led to the reporter’s arrest.”
When reporters asked DeWine about the arrest at the end of the news conference, he declined to comment on specific details but said it is common practice for journalists to report live from his events and that they have a right to do so.
“That person had a right to be reporting. They should have been allowed to report,” he said. “If they were in any way hampered from reporting, that certainly is wrong and it’s not anything that I approve of. In fact, I vehemently disapprove of it.”
During the news conference, DeWine and local officials provided an update on the train derailment, the wreckage of which burned for days and prompted evacuations over the threat of a deadly explosion and leakage of its toxic cargo.
Lambert told NewsNation after his release that he was “just trying to do his job.”
“And that’s what it’s all about, protecting the first amendment and democracy and trying to help people get information,” he said.
™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.