TALLAHASSEE, FL — Former state data analyst Rebekah Jones is fighting back against the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis, this time through a lawsuit. In a complaint filed Monday, Jones claims Florida state police officers violated her constitutional rights when they raided her home with guns drawn, the morning of December 7.
Jones was fired in May for failing to change data on the state’s coronavirus dashboard that she created. Rick Johnson of Tallahassee, Jones’ attorney, said he’s asking the court to order the return of all the equipment seized in the raid, and for the state to pay legal fees and punitive damages from the ordeal.
“Her jump drives and disc drives, and even an external hard drive,” Johnson outlined. “And so we want that back; and another thing is that they did some harm and we want them to pay for it.”
The state claims it had probable cause to execute the search warrant, saying a computer at Jones’s home was used to hack the Department of Health, urging employees to speak out.
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Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Commissioner Rick Swearingen has defended the agents’ action, saying no guns were pointed at any individuals.
Johnson believes the aggressive tactics were orchestrated and designed by the DeSantis administration as both a fact-finding mission and to send a message.
“To find out who all her confidential sources are, and those people are in horror, they’re terrified,” Johnson asserted. “They want to know whether there is going to be eight or nine FDLE agents pounding on their door, and terrorizing their family with guns.”
Gov. DeSantis recently argued with reporters, saying the search warrant execution shouldn’t be called “a raid.” He said Jones “was fired because she wasn’t doing a good job,” adding, “Obviously, she’s got issues.”
After Jones’ dismissal earlier this year, she became a whistleblower.