Bellingham Herald Reports Nothing About Whatcom County Acquittal?

Kamuran Chabuk never set out to create a case history for legal advocates in the self-defense arena when he and his girlfriend went to check on a noise in their neighborhood. It sounded like someone near where they lived might have needed help. The neighbor making the noise was very drunk and he and another potential assailant followed the young couple to their home, continually harassing Chabuk and his girlfriend right up to their front door. Mr. Chabuk took out his gun and told the two men to leave the private area outside his residence. The two men, continued to advance towards Chabuk- even after one of them had been shot. Kamuran shot the most aggressive of the two; the aggressor did not realize he had been shot. The aggressor continued to advance even after Kamuran shot him a second and third time

Kamuran Chabuk was arrested and charged with assault. The Bellingham Herald wrote a brief article (no longer available online). A similar summary was republished by The Seattle Times on May 14, 2013.

In 2013, Chabuk was a 2008 graduate of Western Washington University working toward a master’s degree in math. He had taught math classes at the university and had led a pre-calculus course that quarter. The Seattle Times published a brief report on how Western Washington University barred Mr. Chabuk from campus during the police investigation.

On May 31, 2013, the Bellingham Herald published another article (also no longer available online), and along with the 911 call from Mr. Chabuk, printed the sub-headline “[Chabuk] admits guilt.”  Kamuran had already declared to police (on May 11, 2013), and in court (on May 13, 2013), that he was defending himself and his girlfriend. He pleaded not guilty to the charge. Nevertheless, The Herald published the accusation that Chabuk had somehow damaged a vehicle, as if justifying Mr. Kiener, the aggressor’s, behavior.

The fact that Mr. Kiener pursued the couple to Chabuk’s home without any attempt to call 911 and report the accusation of property damage seemed unimportant to the prosecutors and even less important to reporters. Of course, reporters usually just report what is contained in police reports and announcements from the prosecutor’s office. Investigative reporting is reserved for exposing corporations that manufacture firearms and, of course, the NRA

In 2015, during the first trial for assault in the first degree, Whatcom County prosecutor David McEachran grossly misstated the law to the jury. The jury returned a verdict of guilty for the lesser-included charge of assault in the second degree. The Herald published an article on the case on Nov. 27, 2015.

Several months later, in April 2016, Judge Ira Uhrig granted a defense motion for a new trial due to prosecutorial misconduct. The Bellingham Herald again wrote about the ruling. A casual reader might almost conclude, from the tone of the report, that the trial judge was soft on violent crime!

The county prosecutor filed an appeal on the ruling. The fact that the Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the trial court in 2019, raises the issue of how well Whatcom County prosecutors understand disparity of force or whether they just rely on the news media to make things look good. Does the fact that the Bellingham newspaper never published any mention of the 2022 acquittal raise issues about media bias?

After several more years of delay due to the appeal and Covid lockdowns, Chabuk was acquitted in a bench trial before Hon. Judge David Freedman. As of Dec. 9, 2022, the Herald has not published any mention of the case (at least not since 2016) that we have been able to locate. We asked the Herald to comment but have not received any response to date. In fact, a curious reader would seem to find no mention of the outcome of the case by searching online news. The verdict came 9 years and 6 months from the original incident.

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