TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has released body-worn camera footage taken from outside the home of Rebekah Jones as a warrant was executed at the former state data scientist’s Tallahassee house on Monday.
“This video demonstrates that FDLE agents exercised extreme patience,” Commissioner Rick Swearingen said in a statement along with the video’s release.
“Search warrants are one of the most dangerous events a law enforcement officer will engage in, and many officers are killed each year during the execution of search warrants,” he continued. “Agents afforded Ms. Jones ample time to come to the door and resolve this matter in a civil and professional manner. As this video will demonstrate, any risk or danger to Ms. Jones or her family was the result of her actions.”
Jones posted her own video of the encounter on social media Monday, accusing agents of pointing a gun at her face and at her children, which Swearingen denied.
The investigation followed a complaint that someone illegally hacked into the state’s emergency alert system. Jones has denied doing that.
Jones, who was instrumental in the Florida Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard, has been critical of the state’s handling of COVID-19 since she was fired this spring.
She said she was dismissed for refusing to manipulate coronavirus data. A spokeswoman for Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters at the time that Jones had been let go because she “exhibited a repeated course of insubordination” and made “unilateral decisions ... without input or approval from the epidemiological team or her supervisors.”
FDLE says agents rang Jones’ doorbell and knocked on the door for several minutes beginning at 8:26 a.m. Monday, without cooperation from her.
“During the initial approach, agents tried to minimize disruption to the children, attempting to speak with Ms. Jones at the door to explain the search warrant,” FDLE said in its release. “At approximately 8:31, agents went to the back of the house and saw Ms. Jones’ husband going upstairs. The situation continued for 23 minutes without cooperation of Ms. Jones, including several phone calls to her.”
The bodycam video shows her eventually coming out the door and putting her hands up.
FDLE said it was comfortable releasing the video Thursday “because it will not interfere with the cybercrime investigation.”
“I am proud of the way these FDLE agents performed,” Swearingen said. “I can only hope those same individuals who criticized these public safety heroes will now apologize and condemn the actions of Ms. Jones. The media should also demand Ms. Jones release the entirety of the video she recorded while agents were present in her home.”
Agents said they did not seize the video camera Jones was using to record the situation or electronic devices belonging to Jones’ husband or children because they were found to have no value to the investigation.
Watch the two videos released by FDLE below:
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