EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) — New video shows what led up to the arrest of NewsNation reporter Evan Lambert during a press conference in East Palestine, Ohio last Wednesday.
Nexstar’s WKBN requested and obtained the video from the East Palestine City School District. Surveillance video from the elementary school’s gymnasium, where the press conference was being held, shows two angles of what led up to the arrest of Lambert.
Lambert had been reporting on the derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals, a story that continues to make national headlines amid swirling questions about potential threats to the environment and health of residents. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was speaking in the gymnasium during a press conference that started two hours later than initially scheduled.
Lambert was giving a live report during NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” when he was told by law enforcement personnel at the news conference to be quiet because DeWine had started speaking.
Lambert finished the live report but was then asked to leave by authorities, who tried to forcibly remove him from the event.
An affidavit claims the man in charge of Ohio’s National Guard, Major Gen. John Harris, confronted Lambert over his “loud” reporting and that two Highway Patrol troopers, along with Harris, went back and advised them to stop that reporting.
The affidavit accuses Lambert of being involved in an altercation with Harris during the incident. A statement from Harris says Lambert was “aggressively lurching” at him and screaming that “you guys are the ones who strung this thing out!”
Video of the incident from the gymnasium appears to show Harris pushing Lambert in the chest, leading law enforcement to surround the men, separating Harris from Lambert.
The video then shows a heated conversation between Lambert and law enforcement before officers grab Lambert and escort him into the hallway, where video from other reporters at the scene shows them taking him to the ground in handcuffs.
A statement issued to WKBN from the East Palestine Police Department says officers attempted to “deescalate the situation” by asking Lambert to step outside. Lambert refused, saying he was doing his job and wanted to listen to what DeWine had to say.
The statement says Lambert was taken to the ground during a struggle “in an effort to maintain control” of Lambert and “while preventing injury to the involved parties.”
After Lambert was taken into custody, DeWine said during Wednesday’s press conference that he didn’t personally order the arrest.
“It has always been my practice that if I’m doing a press conference, someone wants to report out there and they want to be talking back to the people back on channel, whatever, they have every right to do that,” DeWine said. “If someone was stopped from doing that, or told they could not do that, that was wrong. It was nothing that I authorized.”
Lambert’s attorney, Youngstown lawyer Frank L. Cassese, also criticized the arrest.
“The claims made by Adjutant Major General Harris that Mr. Lambert was aggressive and that Harris was “…convinced he was prepared to do harm to me” are patently false. It is our position that the numerous videos of the incident, as recorded by bystanders, speak for themselves,” Cassese said in a statement.
WKBN was also previously provided an Ohio State Highway Patrol officer’s body camera footage of the incident.
Lambert faces charges of resisting arrest and criminal trespass. A special state prosecutor has been assigned to the case so that local entities are not involved.
Gerry Ricciutti contributed to this report.