The Ohio police involved in the arrest of a NewsNation correspondent is defending its actions even after it was denounced by Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.
Evan Lambert was taken into custody on Wednesday as he was reporting live from a press conference DeWine was scheduled to speak it to provide an update on the train derailment that has spurred into a local disaster. He was released late Wednesday evening.
In a press release Thursday, East Palestine Police Chief J.C. Brown III laid out what allegedly transpired that justified Lambert’s arrest.
Brown began claiming how Lambert’s live reporting from the rear of the gymnasium was “loud,” prompting two State Highway Patrol Troopers along with Adjutant Major General Harris from the National Guard to “advise” the NewsNation crew to “stop their live reporting in an effort to ensure that all members of the media were getting the necessary safety information.”
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“An argument then ensued between the general and Lambert-McMichael, which was now disrupting the press conference. The general informed officers that Lambert-McMichael was coming at him, in an aggressive manner, General Harris feeling threatened pushed Lambert-McMichael away,” Brown wrote. “Sheriff Brian Mclaughlin, Chief Deputy Jen Tucker, and Lt. Caleb Wycoff along with Det. Haueter then went back and advised Lambert-McMichael that he needed to leave the gymnasium because at that point in time the situation evolved into a physical confrontation and required law enforcement intervention.”
Brown continued, “Lambert-McMichael advised the officers that he was not leaving and was again advised by all three officers to leave the gymnasium. In an effort to deescalate the situation, Lambert-McMichael was asked to step outside and talk with an Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper. Det. Haueter also asked Lambert-McMichael to step outside and talk yet Lambert-McMichael refused.”
After Lambert allegedly rebuffed the East Palestine School District building supervisor’s request to leave, Brown wrote that “all reasonable means to deescalate” the situation were “exhausted,” leading Haueter and Tucker to attempt to escort him out.
“Lambert-McMichael was advised he was being arrested, and while escorting Lambert-McMichael out, he attempted to pull away and was then placed under arrest for criminal trespassing at which time he resisted arrest,” Brown alleged. “During the struggle, Lambert-McMichael was taken to the ground by Det. Haueter and Chief Deputy Tucker in an effort to maintain control of Lambert-McMcMichael while preventing injury to the involved parties. While on the ground, Lambert-McMichael was not listening to the officers and was attempting to get up. Lambert-McMichael eventually complied with the officers, stopped resisting arrest and was transported to the county jail by the County Sheriff’s office.”
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Michael Corn, NewsNation’s president of news, responded saying “The many videos of this incident taken by bystanders speak for themselves. We will let people draw their own conclusions about how this incident was handled by the officers involved.”
Following his release on Wednesday, Lambert told NewsNation’s Ashleigh Banfield it’s been a “long day” but that he’s “ok.” Lambert refrained from offering details as to what transpired as charges against him were not dropped.
NewsNation D.C. bureau chief Mike Viqueira released a statement Thursday saying Lambert “is safe and headed home for a much-needed respite,” praising his “true professionalism” and adding he was “calm, cool, collected and already talking about his next assignment.”
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Footage from NewsNation shows Lambert being forced on the ground and cuffed by two police officers. The officers escorted him outside and placed him in a patrol car. He was held at Columbiana County Jail.
Lambert said he was charged with “criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.”
DeWine denounced the arrest during the press conference, saying it was “wrong” for Lambert to be told to stop reporting and asserting he did not authorize law enforcement to apprehend the NewsNation correspondent.
“I’m certainly very, very sorry that that happened,” DeWine told reporters. “[Lambert] had every right to be reporting and do what they do every single day.”
Additional footage showed tensions boiling between Lambert and law enforcement in the back of the room as the press conference was being held.
“I got arrested because I was trying to do a live report about what people need to know,” Lambert told a bystander who asked what happened.
Lambert joined NewsNation in 2021 after four years as a reporter at the local affiliate Fox 5 in Washington D.C.
NewsNation was launched in 2020 by Nexstar Media Group, taking over the channel formerly known as WGN America.