Rebekah Jones has filed a lawsuit against the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) after agents conducted a “raid” on her home earlier this month.
Jones, a former Florida Department of Health (DOH) employee, made headlines earlier this year when she was fired from her position. State officials said her termination was due to insubordination, but she claimed she was fired for refusing to manipulate data to support Governor Ron DeSantis‘ plan to reopen Florida.
Following her firing, Jones launched her first GoFundMe campaign in May and created her own website to track COVID-19 numbers in the state.
Jones would again be thrust into the spotlight after FDLE officers executed a search warrant on Dec. 7 at her home in Tallahassee. The event made national headlines after Jones set up a web camera facing the door and published the confrontation on Twitter. The video shows officers entering the home and alerting her that they have a “search warrant” before escorting Jones out of the residence. The 30-second clip also shows law enforcement telling Jones’ to “calm down” and telling her husband to “come down the stairs.”
During the search, police seized computer equipment as part of an ongoing investigation. Agents launched an investigation in early November after receiving a complaint from the DOH that someone at Jones’ residence illegally accessed a state emergency-alert messaging system.
Following the confrontation, Jones accused DeSantis of being the mastermind behind the operation in a follow-up tweet, saying his administration sent the “Gestapo” after her. Jones also alleged officers pointed their guns at her family — including her 2-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son.
FDLE, however, disputed these claims, saying that agents attempted to “minimize disruption to the family” when they first arrived at Jones’ home. Jones, however, refused to comply.
“Ms. Jones refused to come to the door for 20 minutes and hung-up on agents. After several attempts and verbal notifications that law enforcement officers were there to serve a legal search warrant, Ms. Jones eventually came to the door and allowed agents to enter,” said FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger. “Ms. Jones’ family was upstairs when agents made entry into the home.”
Following the viral video, Jones capitalized on the story. She gave exclusive interviews to several legacy media outlets to tell her side of the story. She told CNN’s Chris Cuomo that she didn’t send the text, saying that message in question was “not the way I talk.”
Jones also created her second GoFundMe campaign shortly after the fiasco on Dec. 9. The new page, according to Jones, was set up to raise money to replace the computer that was taken by FDLE and pay her legal fees. To date, both fundraisers — which are still active — have raised more than $506,000.
When asked about both fundraisers still being active, Jones declined to comment.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in Florida’s Second Judicial Circuit. In it, Jones’ attorneys, Rick Johnson and Lawrence Walters, state that FDLE officers violated her First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments rights and “terrorized” her family by coming in with “guns drawn.”
The lawsuit also says that the search warrant had been “obtained in bad faith” and “with no legitimate or clear purpose.” She teased the filing on Twitter early Monday morning.
— Rebekah Jones, MS, GISP (@GeoRebekah) December 21, 2020
According to the lawsuit, Jones is seeking damages of more than $30,000.