Tusan: Misrepresentation Equals a Failed Obligation.

By: Tiamoyo Harris

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While driving in my car Tuesday, Dec. 23 I received word that my friend, Howard University student, Terrence Tusan, was missing. I didn’t make much of it, but as my friend proceeded to tell me more, we figured it might be more serious than we thought.

It was.

A few hours later with my friend’s phone hooked up to my car speaker, all we heard was “Tusan’s dead.”

Our emotions as friends went from sad and hurt to anger and frustration in a matter of hours.

“Former Euless Trinity Player One of Two Suspects Killed in Denton Robbery” was a Dallas Morning News headline. “Mother Of Denton Break-In Suspect Speaks” was a CBS News headline. “Terrence Neal Tusan, Howard University Football Player, Killed During Robbery” was a NBC DFW headline.

I saw my friend, my class mate, and someone’s son being portrayed as a criminal killed in action. As a journalist in my professionalism and skill, I read the articles about him unbiased. At first glance, reading the headlines, the average person would assume a black male who just so happened to attend Howard University was home on Christmas break robbing houses and met his match. However a more astute individual, as many I conversed with, would produce a different observation from reading these undeveloped, primitive articles

Let’s be clear. The only reason this incident made a mere headline was because of the “suspect’s” connection to Howard University, a historically black institution. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been deemed newsworthy by a local editor. Publications and outlets were so quick to make the connection to his black university 1,500 miles away without even properly conducting research before their very eyes. Never mind the fact that this “home invasion” happened at a student apartment complex, it was never proven this was a “home invasion” in the first place. What were they after? Who said it was an invasion, the two people deemed “victims” the only ones who lived to tell their side of the story? This article and investigation raises all types of red flags.

Secondly, Tusan was shot in the neck and the head outside of the apartment, unarmed. Never mind the fact that we are persuaded to believe Tusan, a college senior, robbed a house without a gun, the fact that he was shot outside the apartment building in the back of the head and neck should raise a flag. I guess it was not enough to question it in any of the articles.

I understand as a journalist, they wrote the story based off the police report and what quotes they could squander up. However, all allegations implied as facts stated in these articles about Tusan lack credibility. Tusan was portrayed as a criminal black student athlete “suspect” when in fact the possibility strongly exists that in fact the total opposite is true.

Mutual friends who were close to Tusan’s family told me that he was set up. Tusan’s death was a case of being with the wrong person at the wrong place at the wrong time. Pretty much every person has done that, but we haven’t all faced the verdict of being proclaimed guilty by the media without a trial. Deeming him a suspect when he more than likely was a victim hurts me, his other friends, the Howard community, and most importantly his family.

Tusan’s mother, Donna Tusan, a Howard graduate, was poorly portrayed in the media. She has had two children killed and in her time of bereavement she chose to speak out and clear up her son’s name. Still, her words were twisted and her portrayal was that of another mother pleading the innocence of her wild black child.

What drew me to this case was the fact that Tusan was my friend. What angered me was the poor reporting done that also dishonored his name. I can’t bring Tusan back to life but I can help protect his name which will be his legacy. Allegations and bias leads are not facts. Though Tusan was my friend, I know in the eyes of whatever reporter that took on this story, it was a story of another unfortunate case that involved a black man. Well since you’re doing your job as a reporter, go ahead and do it right. You do not have to believe Tusan’s innocence to do your job. If quotes or contacts are needed for your research, as a fellow journalist, I have them for you. Fulfill your obligation as journalist. Hold no bias, state the facts, do your research, follow up on this story, and let the people know the truth.

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