MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The home of former Florida Department of Health data scientist Rebekah Jones, who built the states COVID-19 dashboard and was later fired she claims for refusing to “manipulate data,” was raided by state police with guns drawn Monday morning.
“They pointed a gun in my face. They pointed guns at my kids,” Jones tweeted before 5 p.m. Monday.READ MORE: 'Down With The Chains' Rally Set For Bayfront Park Saturday
The entire tweet reads, “At 8:30 am this morning, state police came into my house and took all my hardware and tech. They were serving a warrant on my computer after DOH filed a complaint. They pointed a gun in my face. They pointed guns at my kids.
“They took my phone and the computer I use every day to post the case numbers in Florida, and school cases for the entire country. They took evidence of corruption at the state level. They claimed it was about a security breach. This was DeSantis. He sent the gestapo.”
There will be no update today.
At 8:30 am this morning, state police came into my house and took all my hardware and tech.
They were serving a warrant on my computer after DOH filed a complaint.
They pointed a gun in my face. They pointed guns at my kids.. pic.twitter.com/DE2QfOmtPU
— Rebekah Jones (@GeoRebekah) December 7, 2020
Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen released a statement that FDLE’s “investigation began last month following a complaint by Florida Department of Health that a person illegally hacked into their emergency alert system.”
Swearingen confirmed FDLE agents “seized several devices” at Jones’s Tallahassee home.
In an interview with CNN on Monday night, Jones denied entered the FDOH’s system.
“On my phone is every communication I’ve ever had with someone who works at the state, who has come to me in confidence and told me things that could get them fired,” she said. ” I haven’t had access to any system at DOH for over six months.”
About an hour after her first tweet, came the second one that reads in part:READ MORE: 'Biggest Tragedy Is Preventable Loss Of Life': Memorial Healthcare System Chief Urges Public To Get COVID Vaccine
“If DeSantis thought pointing a gun in my face was a good way to get me to shut up, he’s about to learn just how wrong he was. I’ll have a new computer tomorrow. And then I’m going to get back to work.”
If Desantis thought pointing a gun in my face was a good way to get me to shut up, he's about to learn just how wrong he was.
I'll have a new computer tomorrow.
And then I'm going to get back to work.
If you want to help, my website is still at https://t.co/JbQtrVbRuv
— Rebekah Jones (@GeoRebekah) December 7, 2020
Monday night, Jones’ lawyer, Lawrence Walters, released a statement of his own. It read, in part:
“The actions of Florida law enforcement captured on my client’s video depicts unnecessarily reckless and aggressive behavior in the execution of a search warrant for computers. Our client was fully cooperative yet had guns pointed at her and her family. We are concerned that these actions may be retaliation in response to her whistleblower claim against the Department of Health and her criticism of the Governor’s COVID 19 response.”
Jones’ video showed agents with guns drawn, but Swearingen said “at no time were weapons pointed at anyone in the home.”
Jones, who was geographic information systems manager in the department’s Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, said she was fired from her post in May for refusing to manipulate COVID-19 data after being asked to do so.
The story made national headlines, and top Democrats in the state called for an investigation into her firing. DeSantis, however, downplayed her role in developing the online dashboard, saying she isn’t an epidemiologist and that she should have been fired after being charged with cyberstalking.
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“I have a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment, so her supervisor dismissed her because of a lot of those reasons, and it was a totally valid way, but she should have been dismissed, long before that,” the governor said in May.MORE NEWS: 'Mask Up!' Local Experts Sound Alarm On Spread Of Delta Variant: 'Choose To Be Smart!'
A review of Leon County court documents shows that Jones was charged in July 2019 with two counts of cyberstalking and one count of sexual cyber harassment. Two of the charges have been closed, but court records show a cyberstalking charge remains open.