TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – The Florida Department of Law Enforcement released full body camera footage of the search warrant executed on the home of fired Florida data scientist Rebekah Jones this week after what agents call days of being “vilified.”
The search warrant on Jones’ home in Tallahassee happened Monday morning. She tweeted a video Monday evening saying “state police” showed up at her home and took “all my hardware and tech.”
The thread of Jones’ tweets posted Monday quickly went viral and caused backlash and outrage. A Republican who was appointed to a commission that recommends judicial appointments to Gov. Ron DeSantis resigned one day after the raid.
But the FDLE on Thursday blamed the fallout on “inaccurate and incomplete statements given by certain individuals.” The agency said that’s why it decided to release body camera video taken from outside the home to demonstrate the “extreme patience” exercised by the agents performing the search warrant.
According to the FDLE, the video – which was split into two parts – begins at 8:25 a.m. on the day the warrant was executed. A Tallahassee police officer and an FDLE agent approached the door of the home and began to ring the doorbell and knock. The FDLE states the officer and agent tried to minimize disruption to Jones’ children and attempted to speak with her at the door to explain what was happening.
Around 8:31 a.m., agents went to the back of Jones’ home and saw her husband going upstairs.
In a news release, the FLDE said the situation continued for 23 minutes “without cooperation of Ms. Jones, including several phone calls to her.”
When agents did get inside, the FDLE said they found a video camera pointed toward the front door that appeared to be recording. The FDLE said that video is Jones’ property and was not seized during the search warrant. Electronic devices belonging to Jones’ family members were also not seized because, according to the FDLE, they had no investigative value.
Jones tweeted a brief clip from the video inside her home earlier this week and said, “they pointed a gun in my face. They pointed guns at my kids.”
FDLE Commissioner Richard Swearingen issued a statement when the video was released, saying “any risk or danger to Ms. Jones or her family was the result of her actions.”
“I am proud of the way these FDLE agents performed. I can only hope those same individuals who criticized these public safety heroes will now apologize and condemn the actions of Ms. Jones,” he said. “The media should also demand Ms. Jones release the entirety of the video she recorded while agents were present in her home.”
Jones told us earlier this week she stands by her claims and has video of police pointing their gun at her children that she hasn’t released yet.
“I was ready to be arrested. I put my hands up, I was ready to go. I did not expect they would point guns at my kids,” she said.
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.
She also told us she believes the state is trying to learn the names of insiders who have been talking to her.
Jones, who designed and managed the Florida Department of Health’s coronavirus dashboard, was fired in May. At the time, Jones said she believed it was because she was too transparent and refused to manipulate coronavirus data. Gov. DeSantis, however, called Jones “insubordinate.”
After being fired from the Department of Health, Jones launched her own coronavirus dashboard and later launched a national dashboard to track school-related cases. Jones said during the search warrant, agents took her phone and computer she uses to post that data each day.
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