Jurors in Anoka County on Saturday convicted a Minneapolis police SWAT team leader of delivering a knockout punch that nearly killed another bar patron in Andover.
Sgt. David R. Clifford, 48, will be sentenced May 29 for the assault on Brian Vander Lee, who fell and hit his head on the concrete patio floor at Tanners Station. The 44-year-old father of four was on life support for 40 days and underwent three brain surgeries after Clifford punched him last June. Problems with memory, hearing and headaches linger, said a close friend, Mike Archambeault.
Clifford faces a term of seven years under state sentencing guidelines. Two-thirds of that would be served in prison, the rest on supervised release. He was convicted of first- and third-degree assault, both felonies, and fifth-degree misdemeanor assault. Convicted felons are not eligible to hold a Minnesota peace officer license.
“Everyone assumes we’re going to give him a break because he’s a police officer,“ prosecutor Blair Buccicone said. “We treat everyone the same. David Clifford is no different from anybody else.”