WINTER HAVEN (FOX 13) - A Central Florida sheriff has a message for Apple's CEO: You'd better be ready to unlock the iPhone, should it ever be needed here.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd's strong words for Tim Cook came at a Wednesday press conference about the arrest of three brothers, accused of killing a drug dealer. Anthony, Brian, and Nathan Johnson, along with friend Michael Gunn, were charged with first-degree murder for the January beating, sexual assault, and killing of Robert Banks in Lakeland.
The often-outspoken sheriff said the Johnson brothers made investigators' work a lot easier for them because they took pictures of the victim's body with a cell phone and showed it to people, bragging about the murder.
He said the suspects are cooperating and have given detectives their passcodes so they can get into the phones to get those pictures. But when asked about Apple's refusal to decrypt the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists, Judd did not hold back.
"You cannot create a business model to go, 'We're not paying attention to the federal judge or the state judge. You see, we're above the law,'" he said. "The CEO of Apple needs to know he's not above the law, and neither is anybody else in the United States."
Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that creating such an iPhone software breach would jeopardize the privacy of all its customers.
In this Polk county case, the suspects don't have iPhones. But Judd said, if it ever comes up in, he wouldn't hesitate to arrest Cook himself.
"I can tell you, the first time we do have trouble getting into a cell phone, we're going to seek a court order from Apple. And when they deny us, I'm going to go lock the CEO of Apple up," he pledged. "I'll lock the rascal up."