Evan Lambert filed the lawsuit in the U.S. Northern District Court Of Ohio claiming that his First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated and that he was falsely arrested and suffered battery and malicious prosecution. The lawsuit lists 10 counts, including a violation of the Ohio Constitution Article 1 — unlawful deprivation of free speech and freedom of the press.
The lawsuit names Columbiana County, East Palestine, Columbiana County Sheriff Brian McLaughlin, John C. Harris, Jr., who is an adjunct general in the Ohio National Guard; Jennifer Tucker, who is the chief deputy of the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Department; East Palestine Police Chief James Brown III and Daniel Tucker, a detective for the East Palestine Police Department.
The lawsuit surrounds the arrest of Lambert on Feb. 8 while he was covering a press conference for WKBN 27 First News’ sister station, NewsNation. Lambert was arrested after Harris told him to stop his live reporting while Governor Mike DeWine was speaking. Lambert did not comply and was arrested by sheriff’s deputies and East Palestine officers, charged with resisting arrest and criminal trespass. The charges were ultimately dropped.
During the arrest, Lambert was brought to the ground and handcuffed. DeWine later rebuked the arrest saying that reporters doing liveshots during his press conferences is expected and that he does not object to that.
Lambert was booked into the Columbiana County Jail with a mugshot and was told to put on an orange jail jumpsuit. He was placed in a small holding cell until a representative from NewsNation was able to pay his bond, the filing stated. He was detained for five hours.
Lambert claims in the lawsuit that he was assaulted and “faced meritless criminal charges” which was the product of poor training by local law enforcement on the “rights of journalists and the use of force,” according to the filing. Court documents say Lambert filed the lawsuit so that other journalists reporting in Ohio could do so without “fear that they will experience the same unlawful mistreatment,” the filing stated.
Lambert is asking for compensatory and punitive damages as well as court costs. He is also asking for an injunction restraining the defendants from retaliating against him, preventing him from any further newsgathering and to address “inadequate policies and training practices,” according to the filing.
Judge Benita Pearson has been assigned to the case. Summonses have been issued to the defendants.