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Former Florida Department of Health geographer Rebekah Jones sues FDLE

Former FDOH employee Rebekah Jones sues FDLE after raid at her home
Posted at 7:07 PM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 19:07:38-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Former Florida Department of Health manager of COVID-19 data and surveillance Rebekah Jones is now in a legal battle with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement commissioner Rick Swearingen and two other agents following a Dec. 7 raid at her home.

"If Rick Swearingen feels like he's confident enough that what he did was right, he can explain that to my 11-year old son who sleeps on the floor outside of my bedroom door every night because he's afraid that police are going to come back with guns drawn," said Jones.

Rick Johnson is Jones' attorney. He claimed FDLE violated Jones' first, fourth, and fourteenth amendment rights.

"That's violations of the Fourth Amendment; illegal search and seizure. Violation of the First Amendment for shutting down her communications operation and for retaliation against her for the opinions that she has expressed and the facts that she has revealed. And there's a 14th Amendment to give her deprivation of property without due process of law and deprivation of liberty, because they held her in her family in terror for hours," said Johnson.

The lawsuit also claims an unknown agent committed battery. It claims he repeatedly ran his hands up and down her ribs, gripping and holding her sides.

"Hopefully the police will admit they did something wrong, return my stuff they took which was thousands of dollars of equipment," said Jones.

A search affidavit shows that officers believed someone used Jones' IP address to access a messaging system to send a text that said, "It's time to speak up before another 17,000 people are dead. You know this is wrong. You don't have to be a part of this. Be a hero."

Jones' computer, phone and media storage were taken in the raid.

While FDLE is yet to comment on the lawsuit, on December 15th, Commissioner Swearingen stuck by his department's handling of the search.

"A police officer executing a search warrant is one of the most dangerous things that we will do in our jobs. I don't ever recall, during the execution of a search warrant, entering a facility without my gun drawn," said Swearingen.

So far Jones does not face any charges for the claims of accessing that state messaging system.

Jones' attorney said they are filing a motion to get her things back that were taken from the raid.