David Clifford, alleged sucker-punch cop, used to work security at a bar
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Minneapolis SWAT team leader David Clifford's personnel file contains new information about the embattled police sergeant.
The file, obtained by City Pages, shows Clifford had experience dealing with problems at bars long before he nearly killed Brian Vander Lee with a punch in what Anoka County Sheriff's Cmdr. Paul Sommer called "a one-sided assault."
Clifford was a "doorman" at Jose's Bar and Grill from December 1991 to April 1992, according to an employment history Clifford submitted as part of a job application to become a police cadet in November 1992. Clifford described his job as checking IDs, answering the phone and seating diners, as well as providing security. Elaborating further, Clifford wrote: "Insure Safety, Security of Customers. Handle unruly guests."
Clifford's boss at Jose's Bar and Grill could not be reached for comment.
Clifford faces first-degree assault charges for punching Brian Vander Lee at Tanners Station on June 16 while he was off-duty.
That evening, Clifford told police he asked Vander Lee to tone down his vulgar language on the restaurant's patio. Vander Lee stopped but then began anew, so Clifford approached him. There, Clifford thought he was in danger, so he claims he punched Vander Lee in self-defense, as we've previously reported.
Clifford fled the scene and refused to let police into his home that night, but turned himself in the next day.
Prosecutors have a different theory of the case: they've charged him with assault for punching Vander Lee. Surveillance footage from the bar that night seems to show Clifford sucker-punching Vander Lee, though Clifford's attorney claims Vander Lee "took the first swing."
Police spokesman Stephen McCarty declined to discuss Clifford's past working at a bar.
"There's no comment on that," McCarty said.
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