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Deputy Sheriff James Franklin Chatfield | Whatcom County Sheriff's Office, Washington Whatcom County Sheriff's Office, Washington

Deputy Sheriff

James Franklin Chatfield

Whatcom County Sheriff's Office, Washington

End of Watch: Thursday, July 28, 1921

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 44

Tour: 4 years

Badge # Not available

Cause: Gunfire

Weapon: Handgun

Offender: Mistrial

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Deputy Sheriff James Chatfield was shot and killed as he and another deputy confronted two men they suspected of smuggling liquor and narcotics on a trail crossing the Canadian border near Blaine, Washington.

Deputy Chatfield had his service weapon out when he ordered the men to stop. One of the men, believing that the deputies were smugglers themselves, drew his own revolver and opened fired. Despite being wounded in the abdomen, Deputy Chatfield returned fire but did not strike the subject.

Both men fled but returned to the scene a few minutes later and turned themselves in to the other deputy. They took Deputy Chatfield to a hospital in Lynden where he died several hours later.

The men were charged with Deputy Chatfield's murder but released following a mistrial after they claimed they were just hiking in the area and mistook the deputies for criminals.

Deputy Chatfield had served in law enforcement with the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office and Blaine Police Department for four years. He was survived by his four children and his stepdaughter, and his half-brother; he is buried at Fern Hill Cemetery in Anacortes, Washington.

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As the Whatcom Sheriff's Office prepares to celebrate its 160th anniversary, many thanks to Washington State historian Rae Ann Victor for bringing this line of duty death to the attention of the Sheriff's Office and ensuring that Undersheriff Chatfield is properly recognized. His sacrifice will now be memorialized in perpetuity.

Sheriff Bill Elfo
Sheriff of Whatcom County
November 29, 2013

 

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