Cobb schools investigating teacher who said Breonna Taylor was responsible for her own death

A Pebblebrook High School teacher has come under fire for controversial comments she made about Breonna Taylor. Credit: John Spink/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A Pebblebrook High School teacher has come under fire for controversial comments she made about Breonna Taylor. Credit: John Spink/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Cobb County School District is investigating a teacher who made controversial remarks to students about Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was killed by police in Kentucky last year during a botched drug raid.

A video of the comments made by Susan McCoy, a forensic science teacher at Pebblebrook High School, was posted by a student Friday on Instagram.

McCoy has not responded to requests from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for this article.

Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical worker, was shot multiple times March 13, 2020, by Louisville Metro police officers who entered her home using a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation. No drugs were found. Police raided the apartment as part of an investigation into a drug-trafficking suspect and Taylor’s former boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover.

Taylor’s killing sparked weeks of protests, policy changes and a call for the officers who shot her to be criminally charged. Global protests on behalf of Taylor, George Floyd in Minnesota and others have been part of national reckoning over racism and police brutality.

“I’m sorry she was killed, but you know when you hang out with people with guns that shoot at cops, you’re likely to get caught in the crossfire,” said McCoy, who initially could not recall Taylor’s name. McCoy said Taylor was killed because her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, “was a criminal.”

Louisville police say Walker, who was inside Taylor’s apartment at the time of the raid, was the first to open fire when police burst in, wounding one of the officers. Walker, who said he thought an intruder was breaking into the home, was not wounded in the botched raid.

McCoy made the comments following a daily Black History Month announcement made by Principal Dr. Dana Giles. Cobb school board member Tre Hutchins, who confirmed to the AJC that McCoy is the teacher in the video, said Friday’s announcement was about Taylor and the Kentucky State Senate passing a bill restricting the use of no-knock warrants.

Several students challenged McCoy’s comments, telling her that police raided the wrong home, Walker fired in self-defense when cops entered the apartment and that Taylor’s former boyfriend was arrested at a different location about 10 miles from her apartment on the same evening of the raid.

Cobb County schools spokeswoman Nan Kiel said the district is aware of the allegations, is investigating and “will follow any relevant district policy.”

“As a district, we expect every member of our staff to treat each other with respect and understanding,” she said.

Hutchins said he was disappointed in the comments made by the teacher.

“I was disappointed because this was a schoolwide initiative and usually to be part of one team, one goal, we all have to buy in,” he said. “And I didn’t feel like there was buy in from this particular staff member.”

A Pebblebrook High School student posted an Instagram video Saturday of McCoy apologizing for her comments. McCoy said she was sorry for talking about a subject she was “very ignorant on.”

“I am just heartbroken that I said something so rude and disrespectful,” she said. “All I can do is say I’m so sorry. I should never have talked about something that I didn’t understand. I truly apologize and ask for forgiveness and hope that someday I can have that trust back with my students that I know that I lost.”

A day after McCoy’s comments were posted on Instagram, Principal Giles on Saturday wrote a letter to the Pebblebrook community, saying the situation “created frustration, sadness and anger from some of our students, staff and community.”

“As a leader of our diverse community, it is my expectation that we show respect, empathy and wisdom in our actions and words,” she said in the letter, which is posted on the school’s website. “That standard applies to every person who visits, learns or teaches on the Pebblebrook campus.”

The letter goes on to say that the teacher’s comment will be “weighed against the rules, policies and regulations which guide our school and the laws mandated by the state.”

“I am confident this situation will be investigated and any appropriate district policy will be applied,” Giles said. “We will show empathy and support for each other, respectfully, as long as I am the principal of Pebblebrook High School.”

Pebblebrook High School Principal Dr. Dana Giles sent out a letter Saturday following comments made by teacher Susan McCoy over the police killing of Breonna Taylor.

Credit: Cobb County School District

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Credit: Cobb County School District