Fired Florida data scientist Rebekah Jones sues FDLE after ‘raid’ of her home

Coronavirus

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — Rebekah Jones, the data curator who was fired for unauthorized public comments about Florida’s coronavirus numbers back in May, has sued the Florida Department of Law Enforcement after its “raid” on her home in early December.

Jones teased legal action over the weekend, tweeting out an image of a blank lawsuit with her name as the plaintiff, and Rick Swearingen, the commissioner of FDLE, as the defendant.

The lawsuit was filed Monday, and states that FDLE “violated her rights under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments,” and “terrorized” her family by coming in with “guns drawn.” It claims the “raid” was a “sham to punish her” for refusing to falsify statistics on the state’s coronavirus dashboard.

FDLE said its agents waited for more than 20 minutes before Jones opened the door for officers to serve a search warrant. On body camera video, she is heard saying, “He just pointed a gun at my children.”

Swearingen defended his agents’ actions during the search warrant, saying, “Nowhere in any one of those videos did you see an agent pointing a gun at a child’s head.”

According to the FDLE, agents were serving the warrant after the Department of Health filed a complaint regarding an “unauthorized message” sent last month from the department’s emergency alert system. An FDLE spokesperson said agents determined Jones’ home was the location the message was sent from – but Jones told us she didn’t even know a message had been sent.

DeSantis recently addressed the incident during a visit to Tampa. WFLA’s Mahsa Saidi asked DeSantis if he “knew about the Rebekah Jones raid before it happened.”

“I knew there was an investigation, I didn’t know what they were doing, and it’s not a raid, with all do respect,” DeSantis replied. “These people did their jobs […] They did a search warrant. Why did they do a search warrant on the house? Because her IP address was linked to a felony. What were they supposed to do? Just ignore it? Of course not.”

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