Reporter Evan Lambert Arrested While Covering Ohio Train Derailment

On February 9 2023, a popular post to Reddit’s r/news was titled “Reporter arrested during news event on Ohio train derailment,” and a subsequent post to Imgur depicted the same headline:

Both posts were regarding ongoing coverage of a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. A Wikipedia entry (“2023 Ohio train derailment”) summarized the incident:

Fact Check

Claim: Reporter Evan Lambert was arrested while covering Ohio train derailment

Description: NewsNation reporter Evan Lambert was arrested on February 8, 2023, for disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing while covering a press conference related to a train derailment incident in Ohio. However, Lambert stated that he was only doing his job.

Rating: True

Rating Explanation: Multiple sources, including NewsNation, Reddit, Imgur, and a body camera footage from Ohio State Highway Patrol, have confirmed Lambert’s arrest.

On February 3, 2023, Norfolk Southern freight train 32N derailed in the village of East Palestine, Ohio, a town of 4,700 residents near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. The train was composed of 141 cars and was carrying hazardous chemicals, including vinyl chloride, from the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis yard in Madison, Illinois to Norfolk Southern’s Conway Yard in Conway, Pennsylvania. The derailment caused a fire which has lasted for days. A massive emergency response by agencies from three states began and led to the mandatory evacuation of residents within a one-mile radius. No deaths or injuries were immediately reported.

Coverage from the Wall Street Journal filled in details:

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine maintained a mandatory evacuation Monday for residents within a one-mile radius of East Palestine, an Ohio village of nearly 5,000 people, after 50 cars of a Norfolk Southern Corp. train derailed Friday at about 9 p.m., causing a chemical fire. Rising temperatures in one car had posed a risk of an explosion, the governor said.

A team led by Norfolk Southern set charges on five tanker cars to drain vinyl chloride—a colorless gas that can easily burn and is used to make polyvinyl chloride hard-plastic resin—into a trench, where the chemical was ignited with flares and burned off. A column of black smoke rose from the site, darkening the sky above East Palestine.

Norfolk Southern said the chemical was expected to burn for several hours, and it said the company would continue to monitor air quality with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. It said remediation work at the derailment site would continue.

A February 7 2023 article reported on resulting illness in local pets. As of February 9 2023, news reports about the derailment itself referenced reports of animals becoming sick and dying in the wake of the accident:

Health concerns are growing in East Palestine as reports rise of animals getting sick and some even dying. The train derailment is causing struggles not just for the animals, but their owners as well.

Taylor Holzer and his family run Parker Dairy, just outside the original evacuation zone. Holzer is registered with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources as a foxkeeper.

A couple of his foxes broke their legs trying to run after the initial derailment. One of his foxes even died.

On February 9 2023, a related story appeared about a reporter who had been arrested in the process of covering the derailment and its aftermath:

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.


“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.”

Both the Reddit post and Imgur submission referenced the same Associated Press (AP) article, “Reporter arrested during news event on Ohio train derailment.” It identified the journalist as Lambert, on assignment for NewsNation when he was arrested at a February 8 2023 press conference about health risks created by the derailment:

A reporter was pushed to the ground, handcuffed and arrested for trespassing while covering a news conference about the derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals in Ohio.

NewsNation posted video of correspondent Evan Lambert being arrested Wednesday [February 8 2023] in the gymnasium of an elementary school in East Palestine where Gov. Mike DeWine was giving an update about the accident.

Lambert was held for about five hours before being released from jail, NewsNation reported.

“I’m doing fine right now. It’s been an extremely long day,” Lambert said after his release. “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.”

NewsNation published an article on February 8 2023 about Lambert’s arrest on the job:

Correspondent Evan 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 Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was speaking.

Lambert finished the live report but was then asked to leave by authorities, who tried to forcibly remove him from the event. The charges Lambert is facing are disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing … After Lambert was taken into custody, DeWine said 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.”

NewsNation noted that Lambert declined to describe the arrest due to charges pending against him. Another NewsNation reporter who watched the arrest commented:

Mike Viqueria, NewsNation’s Washington Bureau chief, called the arrest a violation of the First Amendment that infuriates him.

“I was watching the press conference stream … and the only thing I heard that was disruptive was when this altercation with the police — which apparently they have instigated — was unfolding,” Viqueria said. “I did not hear anything of Evan’s voice when he was quietly speaking on live television. … As his boss, as his colleague, as a fellow journalist, it’s really infuriating.”

On February 9 2023, Ohio’s described body camera footage of Lambert’s arrest:

The video, which is over nine minutes long, starts with troopers approaching Lambert as he was doing a live report at the start of the news conference that featured Gov. Mike DeWine. According to police, Lambert was described as being “loud” inside the East Palestine Elementary School gymnasium.

As the video progresses, members of the Ohio State Highway Patrol along with Ohio National Guard Adjutant General John Harris are seen waiting for Lambert to finish. At around the 1:30 mark, an argument ensued between Lambert and Harris. Harris told officers that Lambert came at him in an “aggressive manner,” resulting in the Harris pushing Lambert away when he felt threatened.


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 … 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.”

A February 8 2023 New York Times article about the arrest referenced the same footage, adding:

[Lambert] told the four officers not to touch him as they circled around him. Then the officers and Mr. Lambert moved toward a hallway, where two officers placed Mr. Lambert on the ground on his stomach, video of the encounter shows. A witness can be heard saying, “Oh my God, you guys this is bad, stop.”

When asked by other reporters at the news conference about the episode, [Gov. Mike] DeWine said that it has always been his practice to allow reporters to talk to viewers live as he speaks at news conferences.

“If someone was stopped from doing that, or told they could not do that, that was wrong,” he said. “It was nothing that I authorized and certainly would be something I would not want to see happen.”

In a video interview Lambert gave to journalist Ashleigh Banfield immediately after his release, he said:

“I have to be kind of careful about what I say, but as you can see, I’m out,” he said. “Most things are on video of the situation, so it’s pretty clear to see what happened. But I’ll just say this, I’m just trying to do my job as I am continuing to do right now, and that’s what it’s all about —protecting the First Amendment and democracy — trying to help people get information. We were talking about this major accident that impacted hundreds, thousands of people in this town, and that’s just what we were trying to do at the time and what I continued to try to do.”

On February 9 2023, the East Palestine Police Department shared a photograph to Facebook of a printed press release addressing Lambert’s arrest. It concluded by saying East Palestine Police would offer “no further comment” on Lambert’s arrest:

east palestine police department evan lambert press release

On February 8 2023, NewsNation reporter Evan Lambert was tackled and arrested by East Palestine Police as he attempted to cover a press conference following a train derailment in Ohio. Lambert was detained for five hours, and charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing. Lambert voiced his concern for press freedom, but declined to provide his account of the arrest, citing pending litigation. Body camera footage of the incident was released to the press by the Ohio State Highway Patrol on February 9 2023.