Minneapolis officer found guilty in bar assault

Published 6:18 am Sunday, April 14, 2013

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.

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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 said a seven-year sentence is recommended under Minnesota sentencing guidelines.

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