Minneapolis officer found guilty in bar assault

7:05 PM, Apr 14, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - A Minneapolis police SWAT team leader has been convicted of assaulting a man while off-duty at a bar.

The Anoka County District Court jury decided Saturday that Sgt. David Clifford was not acting in self-defense when he punched Brian Vander Lee on June 16 at Tanners Station in Andover.

Clifford said Lee tried to take a swing at him. The 44-year-old Vander Lee, from Ramsey, hit his head on the concrete patio and needed three brain surgeries.

"Very satisfied, very satisfied," says Michael Archambault, a friend of Brian Vander Lee.  "We waited a long time, it's been almost 10 months, and , yeah, we're happy with it (the verdict)." 

The 48-year-old Clifford was convicted on first-, third- and fifth-degree assault. Clifford will be sentenced May 29.

Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo says a seven-year sentence is recommended under Minnesota sentencing guidelines.

Closing arguments concluded Friday and the jury deliberated for several hours.

On Saturday, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau released the following statement on the verdict:

"This is truly a tragic situation for everyone involved. The actions of David Clifford, although off-duty at the time of the altercation, are not consistent with our department core values and high standards. Clifford's actions that day should not negatively reflect our officers and I ask the public for their continued support and confidence in the women and men of the Minneapolis Police Department who serve our community each day with professionalism, commitment, and integrity."

(Copyright 2013 by KARE and The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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