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Florida authorities on Thursday released body camera video from Monday’s controversial home raid of former state data analyst, claiming it shows officers acted with patience and professionalism.
But while the footage does show that officers waited outside for nearly 23 minutes before entering the home of Rebekah Jones, it does not disprove her allegation that they pointed a gun at her family.
In fact, after two officers entered the home, Jones can be heard yelling, “Do not point that gun at my children! He just pointed a gun at my children!” according to the body cam footage.
Jones claims she was fired from the Department of Health for refusing to doctor coronavirus figures.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement released the nearly 30 minutes of footage from the body camera of an officer who remained outside Jones’ home as others executed the search warrant inside, reportedly seizing her computers and phone.
It shows that officers waited outside for nearly 23 minutes before Jones finally opened the door, authorities said.
In the video, officers can be seen periodically knocking on the door, but with no answer. Six minutes after arriving, an officer went around the back of the house and saw Jones going upstairs, authorities said.
At one point, officers went back to a patrol car to obtain a home phone number for Jones. They called the home several times, but nobody picked up, police said.
Jones eventually came outside, with her hands up, after a male officer banged forcefully on her door several times, saying, “Police, search warrant, Open the door.”
Monday’s raid was part of a probe into an alleged hack of the Department of Health’s messaging alert system used for emergencies.
Later Monday, Jones, who had denied hacking the system, released her own clip of the raid on Twitter, showing officers entering her home with their guns drawn, pointing them toward the second floor.
On Twitter, Jones wrote, “They pointed a gun in my face. They pointed guns at my kids,” without providing video evidence to back up her claims.
The footage released by authorities on Thursday did not disprove her allegations, as the footage did not capture what happened inside the home.
Florida Congressman Charlie Crist, a Democrat, condemned the raid in a Tuesday statement.
“Unless we get more information showing otherwise, it looks like an act of retaliation or an attempt to silence Ms. Jones for her critiques of the state’s COVID-19 response,” Crist said, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen on Thursday shot back at the criticism.
“This video demonstrates that FDLE agents exercised extreme patience,” Swearingen wrote in a statement.
“I am proud of the way these FDLE agents performed. I can only hope those same individuals who criticized these public safety heroes will now apologize and condemn the actions of Ms. Jones,” he said.
A portion of the video does capture the moment Jones opens her front door after officers waited outside.
On Nov. 10, someone used the state Department of Health’s messaging alert system to send a message stating: “It’s time 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,” the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
About 1,750 of the messages went out before delivery was stopped, according to the search warrant.
Agents suspect someone at Jones’ home “illegally accessed the system,” the police spokeswoman said.
“I have never had access to that system,” she told the newspaper. “I am not a hacker. I do data statistics and analysis.”
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