David Clifford, Mpls police sergeant, in jail after nearly killing man with alleged bar sucker punch

Brian Vander Lee was talking loudly on his phone while sitting with friends and family on the patio at Tanners bar in Andover around 7 p.m. Saturday night when a man walked up to him and asked him to quiet down.

Surveillance footage shows that just seconds later, the man waylaid Vander Lee, sending him sprawling to the concrete with a single punch to the face. Vander Lee's head hit the concrete, causing bleeding on his brain. He had two brain surgeries yesterday and was reportedly on life support as of 9 p.m. last night.

The suspect ran from the scene, but turned himself in to Anoka County Jail yesterday afternoon with a lawyer by his side. His name is David Clifford. He's a sergeant with the Minneapolis Police Department and is currently the executive officer of the MPD's SWAT team.

Mike Archambault was on the phone with Vander Lee, his longtime friend, seconds before Clifford allegedly assaulted him. Archambault watched the surveillance footage and told FOX 9 it shows Clifford knocking his friend unconscious with "a Superman punch."

Vander Lee suffered a serious brain injury after his head hit the concrete.
Vander Lee suffered a serious brain injury after his head hit the concrete.

"Brian went back, feet up in the air, and [Clifford] landed on top of him and his head bounced off the concrete," Archambault said.

Clifford remains in jail this morning awaiting first- and third-degree assault charges. According to an online biography, he's a veteran of the US Army who served in Kosovo and Iraq.

Vander Lee, meanwhile, continues to fight for his life, though doctors are optimistic he'll pull through, citing his strong vital signs. He has a wife and four young daughters.

See also:
-- One-punch homicide: When a night at the bar goes horribly wrong

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >