Agents ‘vilified,’ FDLE says after releasing Rebekah Jones raid body cam footage
An agent knocks on the door at Rebekah Jones' home. Image via Vimeo/FDLE.

Rebekah Jones body cam
Jones released her side of the story Monday.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has released body cam footage from its raid this week at Rebekah Jones‘ home, precipitated by statements made online and in the media.

In a press release Thursday, which included one officer’s body cam footage split into two segments, FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said agents were “vilified.” That comes after Jones on Monday said, “they pointed a gun in my face. They pointed guns at my kids.”

Jones on Monday uploaded to Twitter video she recorded of the search and caught the national media’s attention. FDLE confirmed the search was in response to a hack last month into an emergency communications system for the Department of Health, where Jones worked before she was fired in May.

Commissioner Rick Swearingen said he hoped people who criticized how law enforcement handled the search would apologize and condemn Jones’ actions.

FDLE released the video “because of inaccurate and incomplete statements given by certain individuals,” Plessinger wrote.

“This video demonstrates that FDLE agents exercised extreme patience,” Swearingen said in a statement. “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. No search warrant is routine or without potential officer safety issues regardless of the underlying crime.”

Tallahassee Police Department officers and FDLE agents first approach Jones’ door at 8:25 a.m., according to the footage. Agents were at the door for 23 minutes before Jones came to the door.

Officers called Jones several times. One officer is heard saying they called Jones and asked to make contact with someone before someone hung up the phone.

Subsequent phone calls went directly to voicemail.

“Agents afforded Ms. Jones ample time to come to the door and resolve this matter in a civil and professional manner,” Swearingen said. “As this video will demonstrate, any risk or danger to Ms. Jones or her family was the result of her actions.”

Jones finally opens the door after an agent pounds her door in five spurts, repeating, “Police, search warrant, open the door.”

FDLE’s video shows an agent pointing his gun as he approaches her front window before she opens the door.

A video camera appeared to be recording the entire time agents were in the residence, and that camera was not seized, FDLE said. Jones’ 31-second video begins when she opened the door for officers.

“The media should also demand Ms. Jones release the entirety of the video she recorded while agents were present in her home,” Swearingen said.

Her video shows officers brandishing guns and telling Jones to exit her Tallahassee home. The video also shows a law enforcement officer yelling at her husband to “come down the stairs now.”

In both videos, Jones can be heard saying in a high-pitched voice, “he just pointed a gun at my children.” Jones’ clip shows that happened after an agent points his gun up her empty stairwell.

Investigators on the scene forensically examined Jones’ husband and children’s devices and determined they had no investigative value. Those devices were not seized in an effort to minimize disruption to the family, FDLE added.

Soon after FDLE released the body cam footage, Jones tweeted her defense.

“Bodycam footage released by police shows they waited about 13 minutes outside while I got dressed, and were ready to break my door down with a sledgehammer. At 13:48, an officer is shown pointing a gun at my face. They thought this would… help them?” Jones wrote. “It also shows me coming out with my arms up, cooperating, with my husband coming down the stairs with my two year old in his arms. My video from inside showed them pointing the guns right at them. This is ‘restraint?’ Really???”

On Monday, Jones blamed Gov. Ron DeSantis for the raid. On CNN’s Cuomo Prime Time, she added that the Governor would soon know who she had spoken to in confidence at DOH.

“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,” she tweeted. “They took evidence of corruption at the state level. They claimed it was about a security breach. This was DeSantis. He sent the gestapo.”

The Governor’s Office denied prior knowledge of the search, and FDLE said the investigation began before knowing Jones’ involvement in the case.

“Patient, non-threatening, and professional. Watch both videos,” tweeted Fred Piccolo, the Governor’s communications director.

According to FDLE, a hacker on Nov. 10 sent State Emergency Response Team members text messages through a custom-made communications application for the Division of Emergency Management reserved for emergencies only. The message, first reported last month by the Tampa Bay Times, urged recipients 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. Speak out before it’s too late.”

DOH estimates that 1,750 messages were sent before software vendors with ReadyOp, who designed the system, were able to cancel the distribution.

Jones, a frequent DeSantis critic who was fired for what his administration has called repeated insubordination, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo she has not had access to DOH systems for more than six months.

“I’m not a hacker,” she added. “As the Governor pointed out many months ago, I’m not that tech savvy and have no interest in reaching out to DOH.”

An FDLE affidavit says investigators secured an IP address tied to Jones’ home as the hack’s source. But she contends that IP address came from DOH’s inspector general’s office, not from an original FDLE investigation.

Monday’s raid was the latest confrontation between Jones and the agency where she once worked.

Jones used to curate coronavirus data for DOH’s dashboard as the department’s Division of Disease Control and Health Protection geographic information systems manager. While the state called her insubordinate, Jones contends she was fired for refusing to manipulate data.

“The blatant disrespect for the professionals who were working around the clock to provide the important information for the COVID-19 website was harmful to the team,” DeSantis’ then-spokeswoman Helen Aguirre Ferré said in May. “Having someone disruptive cannot be tolerated during this public pandemic, which led the Department to determine that it was best to terminate her employment.”

That month, DeSantis accused the national media of latching onto the story because claims Florida would become the next Italy of the pandemic didn’t come true.

“Maybe it’s that there are black helicopters circling the Department of Health,” he said. “If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.”

The administration also brought to the media’s attention criminal charges that had been filed against Jones last year.

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. According to court records, one of the cases is still open.

Jones filed a whistleblower complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations in July.

The Nov. 10 hack came in the afternoon after news broke that the state’s Office of Policy and Budget had hired an Ohio sports blogger who downplays the virus’ severity on social media to manage the dashboard Jones once oversaw.

Since her firing, Jones has used publicly available DOH coronavirus data to create an alternate dashboard to track COVID-19 infections. In August, she launched The COVID Monitor to track cases in schools across the country.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at r[email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • Ocean Joe

    December 10, 2020 at 7:19 pm

    I missed the part where they served her or her husband with a warrant before beginning the search.

  • Valerie Sprieser

    December 10, 2020 at 8:09 pm

    Drawing guns and pointing them in a house with a family lives with young children for a non criminal offence is just harassment and totally unjustified and Gestapo tactics! Your body cam videos are not going to change any minds! We now live in a police state!
    Anyone who challenges Desantis rule will be threatened likewise!

  • Victor Aparicio

    December 10, 2020 at 10:14 pm

    Those so-called “agents” are scumbags, nothing but DeSantis’ Gestapo, and should be locked up in prison. And you know what happens to cops in prison.

  • Robyn Marks

    December 10, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    Notice, no footage from thugs inside house to show their need to pull guns on desperados at top of stairs.

  • DisplacedCTYankee

    December 11, 2020 at 4:41 am

    I am a full-on radical left-wing radical. But I can see the FDLE’s point of view. Surely there was a better way to carry out this “raid.” Could not the cops have backed off from the house, had a smoke, maybe called superiors for advice, something?

  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    December 11, 2020 at 7:46 am

    The usual far left suspects comment, one even denying what the camera shows…the state had a warrant and announced it. Florida turned Red because of the lyin’ left’s tactics. Jones’ baggage will all be revealed

  • Tim Jones

    December 11, 2020 at 8:21 am

    No. That’s the last thing you want to do when you’re trying to seize easily deletable records from a woman with a history of lashing out at law enforcement (see her time at LSU). FDLE actually waited longer than they should have. But I get the no-win situation they were in.

  • tjb

    December 11, 2020 at 8:44 am

    Should we be speaking about how poorly DeSantis has implemented means to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in our state? We have lost over 20,000 Floridians to this virus. Ms. Jones may be a bit unorthodox in her approach, but DeSantis lack of constructive action to save the lives of Floridians and his poor leadership has caused too many needless deaths. I think an alleged hack is significantly less of a crime than DeSantis’ indifference to the lives of our citizens. Perhaps, FDLE should be knocking on the governor’s door.

  • Jay Dee

    December 11, 2020 at 10:12 am

    DeSantis should be dragged out of his house at dawn, strung up by his privates, and flogged without mercy in the public square.

  • Fuck You

    December 11, 2020 at 1:22 pm

    Those police should all be castrated for child endangerment …. if they didn’t do anything wrong why are their faces blurred

  • dwest

    December 11, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Having worked on very similar messaging systems as the one DOH say was hacked maybe FLDE could answer a few questions while they are asking them.

    They, seem to be saying they have a traceroute to her Ip Address? Show it. Also since it’s just a number how about saying what service provider gave out the name of who had the IP.

    They say the hack was stopped after about 1700 messages went out.
    On that type of system that’s typically about 2-3 milliseconds to send thousands of messages.
    Did someone stop a hack in under 1 second? That seems to need an explanation.

    They say “the system” was hacked. I can only guess that means the network. So once someone hacked into the network how did they know how to log on to the messaging system. Getting on the network does not get you on to applications unless you have zero internal security?

    Maybe they have great answers to that and all the other questions that will come up, but I would not want to be the DOH or FDLE IT expert if this goes to trial.

  • Mike

    December 11, 2020 at 6:30 pm

    This is why l read the comments. I am amazed at the depth of knowledge dwest has regarding traceroutes, IP addresses and networks. If this goes to trial, can you imagine the brain cramps the stenographers will have, keeping up with the IT termanology ?

Comments are closed.


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