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County attorney pursuing misdemeanor charges against Hardin police chief and officer

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Posted at 4:20 PM, May 18, 2022

The Big Horn County attorney is pursuing charges against a Hardin police officer and Police Chief Donald Babbin following an arrest that took place back in early March.

According to charging documents obtained by MTN News, the police officer, Calen Curtin, was called to the Town Pump March 6 to remove a man who was drinking and smoking inside. The county alleges that Curtin tased the man after he “half-heartedly” punched the officer and says video surveillance shows the officer then punching the man twice in the head with a closed fist while he was down.

Curtin could face two misdemeanors, assault and official misconduct, according to an affidavit from David H. Sibley, Big Horn County special deputy attorney.

The county then claims that when the man went to file a complaint about excessive force to Babbin, who is Curtin's roommate, the next day, the chief yelled at him, threatened to arrest him and refused to take the complaint against Curtin.

Babbin could also face two misdemeanor charges, intimidation and official misconduct, according to the affidavit from Sibley. The affidavit also noted that because Babbin provides housing for Curtin, the chief has a financial incentive to overlook complaints against the officer.

When reached by MTN News by phone Wednesday afternoon, Babbin said he had just learned of the charges and would call back later. Curtin could not be reached for comment.

Sibley said the county plans to issue a summons for Babbin and Curtin to appear in court May 31.

Babbin was hired as chief in the fall of 2021 after the city of Hardin started a new police force after decades of paying Big Horn County for law-enforcement protection.

Babbin was working in his first job leading a police force after a long career in law enforcement, including the previous 15 years in Georgia.

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