Ex-SWAT team leader gets 3 1/2 years for punch

Published 9:39 am Friday, July 12, 2013

ANOKA — A former Minneapolis police SWAT team leader has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison for an off-duty punch that severely injured another man at a bar in Andover.

David Clifford, 48, apologized and expressed remorse during an emotional sentencing hearing in Anoka County District Court Thursday. He had been convicted of assault in April for striking 44-year-old Brian Vander Lee, who underwent three brain surgeries after the incident.

Clifford was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs after the hearing. During his trial, he claimed self-defense when he hit Vander Lee at Tanners Station in June 2012. He was fired after his conviction.

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Clifford will be required to serve at least two years and four months before he becomes eligible for supervised release.