(NewsNation) — Charges against NewsNation reporter Evan Lambert have been dismissed, the Ohio attorney general said Wednesday.
“While journalists could conceivably be subject to criminal charges for trespassing in some situations, this incident is not one of them,” Attorney General Dave Yost said in a statement. “The reporter was lawfully present at a press conference called by the governor of the state. His conduct was consistent with the purpose of the event and his role as a reporter.”
Lambert was giving a live report on a news conference about the Ohio train derailment during NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” when he was told by law enforcement personnel to be quiet because Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was speaking.
Though he finished the live report, Lambert was then asked to leave by authorities, who forcibly removed him from the event. The charges Lambert had been facing were resisting arrest, a second-degree misdemeanor, and criminal trespass, a fourth-degree misdemeanor, according to a news release.
In a statement on Twitter, Lambert thanked DeWine, Yost, NewsNation and its parent company, Nexstar Media Group, and others who worked to secure his release and the eventual dismissal of his charges. Lambert also expressed gratitude to those who supported him during what he called an “unjust and illegal arrest.”
“I’m still processing what was a traumatic event for me, 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,” he said. “That is not lost on me.”
At the same time, Lambert said, as a journalist, he has “great respect” for officers who do their jobs with “integrity, civil rights, justice and safety at the core of their mission.
“I am doing alright. And I will be OK. I will also continue to do my job without fear or favor in service of the public,” he said. “I also hope what happened to me shines further attention on the people of East Palestine, who rightly have questions about their safety in light of an environmental hazard.”
In his first interview since the charges against him were dropped, Lambert spoke to NewsNation host Dan Abrams about his arrest.
Lambert said he feels relieved that the charges against him were dropped and that it’s one step in moving forward.
“I think all the video is very clear, I was telling them that I had a right to be there, which I thought in that moment was worth fighting for. I still think that it’s worth fighting for, our First Amendment rights, to do my job, which is what I was doing that entire time. Of course, I didn’t want any of this to happen. But I also didn’t think that it was going to be taken that far,” Lambert told Abrams.
Lambert said he doesn’t know what’s going to happen next with the situation, but noted that he thinks “accountability is important.”
Asked about Lambert’s charges being dropped Wednesday, DeWine reiterated that he feels that it “was a mistake” to stop him.
At the time of his arrest, Lambert was reporting on the derailment of a train in East Palestine. About 50 freight cars, including 10 with hazardous materials, derailed in the small town on Feb. 3. Officials said to prevent a larger explosion, they needed to burn vinyl chloride that was found inside five tanker cars.
No injuries to the crew, residents or first responders were reported due to the train derailment, though some have complained of smelling chlorine or smoke or having headaches.
Environmental concerns have also abounded, as residents have noticed dead fish in local streams as well as other deceased animals.
In his statement, Yost said tensions were running high after the train derailment, and local officials apparently followed the National Guard’s lead.
“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.”
Lambert’s attorney, Youngstown lawyer Frank L. Cassese, said in a statement that the entire situation should have been avoided, but they are “pleased with the swift action” taken by Yost.
“I commend the attorney general and his office for having the courage to dispense justice and exonerate Mr. Lambert of any wrongdoing,” Cassese said.
Lambert will be on “Dan Abrams Live,” which starts at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT, Wednesday. To find out how to watch him, click here.
This story is developing. Refresh for updates.