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Associated Press, Published June 18 2012

UPDATED: Man allegedly hit by Minn. officer on life support

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minneapolis police sergeant and SWAT officer was accused Monday of punching another man in the head at an Andover bar over the weekend, leaving the civilian seriously injured.

Sgt. David Clifford, the executive officer of the Minneapolis Police SWAT unit, was in custody while the Anoka County Attorney's office was reviewing the case for possible charges.

“That type of behavior is out of line for civilian employees, but it's egregious on the part of a sworn law enforcement officer,” Anoka County Sheriff's Cmdr. Paul Sommer said.

Sommer told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that video surveillance from Saturday night shows Clifford walking over to a patio table at Tanners Station, verbally confronting the victim and then punching him once in the head.

The victim, Brian Keith Vander Lee, 34, was on life support Monday after two brain surgeries, Sommer said. He said Lee fell backward after the punch and may have hit his head on concrete.

“I've been told ... he is not doing well,” Sommer said. The hospital would not release information about Lee's condition.

Clifford turned himself in Sunday, Sommer said.

Clifford has been placed on home assignment, and there is an internal investigation, Minneapolis police spokesman Bill Palmer told The Associated Press.

Palmer said Clifford joined the Minneapolis department in 1993 and has been a SWAT officer since the mid-1990s. He has no disciplinary action in his file, and has received two medals of valor and other awards. He was promoted to sergeant in 2008.

He also has worked for the United Nations as a police officer in Kosovo, Palmer said.


Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

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