Did Oakland Police Prioritize A Missing Dog Over A Missing Black Teen?

<<enter caption here>> on December 6, 2012 in Oakland, California.

Did Oakland Police Prioritize A Missing Dog Over A Missing Black Teen?

The family of college student Jonathan Bandabaila and OPD report conflicting stories.

Published September 28, 2019

Written by Angela Wilson

The family of Jonathan Fayiah Bandabaila continues to seek answers in his disappearance. The 19-year-old was last seen by his parents on May 3 when he left the Oakland home they shared. He was reportedly headed to a soccer tournament in Los Angeles and has not been seen or heard from since. 

His 1998 silver Honda Accord was discovered abandoned the following day on the westbound San Mateo Bridge. NewsOne reports his car was pictured passing through the toll booth. 

According to the Bandabaila’s family statement, the Oakland Police quickly dismissed Bandabaila’s case, determining his cause of death was a suicide, in an effort to “just to close the case.” 

His family refused to accept that assumption, remaining hopeful Bandabaila will be found alive. Bandabaila, who attended Merritt College, was described as someone who was “full of joy” who would not take his own life. He even purchased a new suit to wear to a formal dance with a female companion. That suit, and soccer gear, was found in his abandoned vehicle. 

RELATED: Oakland Police Asks For Public’s Help In The Disappearance Of Jonathan Bandabaila

Bandabaila’s mother, Isata, described her son as a “happy boy” who had “too much to live for.”

“No sign of mental illness. No sign of depression. Extremely happy. He was close to my mom," said Harrison, Bandailba’s older brother.

Harrison visited SiriusXM Urban View’s “The Clay Cane Show,” where he described the mind boggling difference in how the Oakland police handled his brother’s missing case and a case of a missing dog. 

“One of my family’s complaints was that the Oakland Police Department put out a memo that there’s a dog missing — two days after it was missing,” Harrison expressed. “It took them 49 days to put out that Jonathan was missing.” 

Listen to the clip below:

Initially, Harrison said 149 days had passed before the OPD took action, but later clarified that it was 49 days.

During the sit-down, he described how his mother diligently watched the news for updates, but instead saw notifications about a missing pet instead.

“She’s seeing all these reports about dogs and all this other stuff. She’s just like — I know that people love their animals, but you have people out there who are missing.”

Harrison also expressed his disappointment in how his brother’s case is being handled in a statement, believing they have not received a comprehensive, satisfactory or timely call to action to his brother’s disappearance.

“We are glad that following a meeting last week — that only came about because we went with community support to City Council — that things appear to be moving now. But it’s three weeks late. Three weeks is a long time for a missing person. That is time we can never recover.

The Bandabailas’ also allege the Oakland Police provided conflicting replies over their concerns.  

On September 19, Bandabalia’s sister, identified as Nisa per her Twitter handle, shared a picture Jonathan, with a caption detailing how OPD still has no answers four months later.

But the Oakland Police Department disputes the Bandabaila’s claims. 

OPD says they waited 19 days to send out a memo on Bandabaila’s disappearance, not the 49 days that Harrison claimed. 

On Friday, May 31, the OPD did not directly address the Bandabalia’s allegations of writing off Jonathan’s disapperance as a suicide, but did admit Jonathan’s unknown whereabouts has affected the Oakland community in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“The Oakland Police Department is actively investigating this open case. Investigators assigned to the case have been in communication with the family. As the case continues, or new information develops, the information will be shared as soon as possible by investigators to his family and our community.”

During a press conference on September 19, Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick vowed that Bandabaila’s case will not be closed until he is found. 

“As an open missing person case, this case will not be closed until we know about Jonathan.” 

The San Francisco Chronicle detailed Isata’s final interaction with her son. 

“The last thing he said to me was that he wanted to talk to me later about something and he loved me. Kissed me then he walked out the door. He was planning on coming home. Something happened to stop him from being able to do that and we need to know what that was.”

Jonathan was last seen wearing a gray jumpsuit. According to the OPD’s Missing Person directory, he’s 5-foot-7 inches tall, weighing 164 pounds. Jonathan was described as a “walking jukebox” who was “extremely active” and “very close to his friends” by Harrison. 

According to the Associated Press, Deputy Chief Oliver Cunningham reveals authorities have some leads, but does not want to disclose too much information. 

If you have information, please call the Oakland Police Department at (510)-587-2523.

Bandabila’s family is offering a $2,500 reward for any information leading to Bandabaila’s whereabouts.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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