Cops raid home of COVID ‘whistleblower’
A former Florida state data scientist has accused the governor of sending "the Gestapo" to raid her home after armed police seized her phone and laptop in an early morning visit.
Data expert Rebekah Jones is a self-described "insubordinate scientist" tracking COVID cases in Florida after being sacked from her role in the Department of Health earlier this year.
On Monday she posted a video online showing armed police entering her home in an early morning raid.
In a string of tweets she described how "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," she wrote.
"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."
She blamed the raid on Florida state governor Ron DeSantis, and said: "This is what happens to scientists who do their job honestly. This is what happens to people who speak truth to power.
"I tell them my husband and my two children are upstairs … and THEN one of them draws his gun. On my children. This is Desantis' Florida."
The Florida Department of Health is investigating whether Jones used a government messaging system to urge politicians to speak out about COVID-19 deaths in the state.
An affidavit by an investigator alleges that an individual had accessed an internal system to send text messages to nearly 2000 government officials asking them to speak about virus deaths.
"It's time to speak up before another 17,000 people are dead," the message said, according to the affidavit, seen by CNN. "You know this is wrong. You don't have to be part of this. Be a hero. Speak out before it's too late."
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed the raid with Commissioner Rick Swearingen saying it was related to an investigation after a complaint by the Department of Health that a "person illegally hacked into their emergency alert system."
"As part of our investigation, FDLE agents served a search warrant this morning at the Centerville Court residence where Ms. Jones lives after determining the home was the location that the unauthorised message was sent from," he said.
"Agents knocked and called Ms. Jones both announcing the search warrant and encouraging her to co-operate. Ms Jones refused to come to the door for 20 minutes and hung-up on agents."
""After several attempts, Ms. Jones allowed agents inside. Agents entered the home in accordance with normal protocols and seized several devices that will be forensically analysed.
At no time were weapons pointed at anyone in the home. Any evidence will be referred to the State Attorney for prosecution as appropriate."
Jones had denied sending such a message and said it contained errors such as underreporting of deaths that she would never make. She told CNN she was "not a hacker" and had never accessed thee system improperly.
She was fired from her role earlier this year and claims it was because she refused to manipulate state data to meet political ends.
However a spokesman for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said she showed "a repeated course of insubordination during her time with the department."
On the early morning raid carried out on Monday, the governor's spokesman said "the governor's office had no involvement, no knowledge, no nothing, of this investigation."
Since ending her role with the health department Jones has continued to track deaths in Florida on her own database.
She said the governor "needs to worry less about what I'm writing about and more about the people who are sick and dying in his state. Doing this to me will not stop me from reporting the data, ever."
Florida has recorded more than 1 million cases and nearly 20,000 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
Originally published as Cops raid home of COVID 'whistleblower'