Former Minneapolis police officer heading to prison for bar fight

12:04 PM, Jul 12, 2013   |    comments
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ANOKA, Minn. -- Former Minneapolis Police Sgt. David Clifford will spend the next two years and four months behind bars. Clifford was sentenced after a jury convicted him of 1st degree assault; he was caught on tape punching a bar patron, Brian Vander Lee, at Tanner's in Andover before fleeing the scene last summer.

Prosecutors had asked for a seven year prison sentence while Clifford's attorney asked the court for a workhouse sentence. In the end, the Judge split the difference sentencing him to 43 months in, 2/3rds of it will be served in prison.

"It was 43 months and Brian's sentenced with this for the rest of his life, struggling from this day to day. We don't even know what the long term effects are going to be and the doctors don't either," Brian Archambault, a close friend of Vander Lee, said.

The victim's wife, Kourtney Vander Lee, told the court that she didn't know if her husband would come out of the coma following the incident. She says he will never be the same and is struggling right now with concentrating on work and dealing with the stress of family life.

"It's unfortunate that a Minneapolis Police Officer acted in a fit of temper and by doing so caused such injuries to the victim in this case," Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo told reporters.

Clifford told the judge that he was sorry for his misguided actions and that he "decided to be a cop when no police intervention was necessary." Friends and family in the courtroom to support the former officer declined to talk after sentencing.

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