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Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost to lead investigation into reporter arrest at East Palestine briefing

NewsNation reporter Evan Lambert was charged with resisting arrest and criminal trespass during Wednesday's train derailment briefing in East Palestine.

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — The investigation into the arrest of a NewsNation reporter during a train derailment briefing in East Palestine earlier this week will be conducted by the office of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. 

According to the Columbiana County Prosecutor's Office, the decision for the state to handle the Evan Lambert case was made due to "the complex nature of the parties involved," which includes the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio National Guard. 

"As additional information concerning the arrest and charging of Mr. Evan Lambert-McMichael became available, it was readily apparent that the incident involves not only local entities here in Columbiana County, but multiple State of Ohio agencies, including the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio National Guard," the release stated.

The incident happened as Gov. Mike DeWine and other local, state, and federal officials were announcing the lifting of the East Palestine train derailment evacuation order on Wednesday.

While the briefing was happening, Lambert was finishing his live report at the back of the East Palestine Elementary School gymnasium. The NewsNation crew was approached by members of the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) along with Ohio National Guard Adjutant General John Harris due to Lambert being "loud," according to a police report. 

OSHP body camera video showed an argument that escalated into a confrontation between Lambert and Harris. Harris told officers that Lambert came at him in an "aggressive manner," resulting in Harris pushing Lambert away when 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.

Four law enforcement members told Lambert that he needed to leave the gymnasium as the incident was escalating into a physical confrontation. "You were told to shut it down. Leave now, or you can go to jail," one of the officers is heard telling Lambert. 

"Do you know how quickly our lawyers can get me out (jail)?," Lambert responded.

A Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper, an East Palestine detective, and a school official asked Lambert to move outside. "Out the doors. Out the doors," an officer is heard saying. 

"I'm going to listen (to the briefing) because it's my job," Lambert fired back. "I'm trying to listen and he (Harris) escalated it with me. I'm doing my job that's covered by the First Amendment."

A man identifying himself as the building supervisor then told Lambert to leave.

According to a release from the East Palestine Police Department, "with all reasonable means to deescalate exhausted," two law enforcement officers tried to take Lambert out of the building and told the reporter he was being arrested. 

While being escorted out, Lambert is seen briefly turning back towards the gymnasium. Police said that he attempted to pull away and was resisting arrest, which led to him being taken to the ground.

A female voice in the background is asking officers to stop, shouting "This is bad. This is bad. Stop this. Evan, I'm sorry." Officers order Lambert to "stop resisting."

"I'm a reporter with NewsNation. This is all being recorded right now," Lambert responded. "This is what it's like to be a Black reporter in 2023."

Police add that Lambert was initially not listening to the instructions of officers and attempted to get up, before finally complying. He was taken to the Columbiana County Jail by sheriff's deputies before being released approximately five hours later. 

Lambert was charged with resisting arrest and criminal trespass.

You can see the entire OSHP body camera video of the incident below.

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