The commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is defending the agency’s raid of a former Florida Department of Health employee’s home in Tallahassee.
Rebekah Jones, a former data analyst, claimed FDLE agents pointed guns at her husband and children inside of their home during the raid, but Commissioner Rick Swearingen called her allegations “false.”
“For her to make those false statements about the way law enforcement officers behaved, I feel like that needs to be addressed,” Swearingen said on Tuesday.
Swearingen spoke out more than a week after the controversial raid at Jones’ home.
Jones could be heard in body camera video yelling at FDLE agents to not point their guns at her children.
“Do not point that gun at my children,” Jones said to officers on the day of the raid. “He just pointed a gun at my children! Why is he pointing a gun at the stairs? There are children up there.”
However, the video never shows the law enforcement officers pointing their guns at any specific person.
“You’ve seen my video, and you’ve seen the 11 seconds she released,” Swearingen said. “Nowhere in either one of those videos do you see an agent pointing a gun at a child’s head.”
The commissioner said having weapons drawn when responding to a search warrant is common, and his agents had their weapons holstered when Jones’ husband and children revealed themselves inside.
“We had been trying to knock politely on her door, ring her doorbell and called her numerous times to handle this in a matter that was respectful of the fact that there were children there,” Swearingen said.
State police investigators said the search warrant is part of an ongoing investigation into unauthorized access into a state emergency messaging system.
“They found a suspicious IP address that did not belong to their network, which is what they provided to us,” Swearingen said. “If she’s implying that, somehow, she was targeted in this investigation, that’s impossible because nobody could have known who that IP address belonged to until we got the subpoena results back from Comcast.”
Jones first made news earlier in 2020 when she was fired from the health department.
She claims her termination happened because she refused to manipulate state COVID-19 data.
“The first time I was asked to do something improper was in April,” Jones said on CNN.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has pushed back against the claims made by Jones, saying the state is transparent with COVID-19 facts and figures.
“Any insinuation otherwise is just typical partisan narrative trying to be spun,” DeSantis said.
Swearingen added that he has not spoken to the governor about the investigation so far.
Jones did not respond to 7News’ phone calls for a response to the investigation.
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