David Clifford posts bail, had half a cocktail before delivering near-fatal punch, attorney says

Though the incident went down at Tanners bar in Andover, Minneapolis SWAT team executive officer David Clifford wasn't drunk when he nearly killed Brian Vander Lee with a right hand to the face, his attorney says.

During a court hearing today, defense attorney Brooke Bass told Anoka County Judge Tammi Fredrickson that Clifford only had half a cocktail before the alleged 7 p.m. Saturday evening sucker-punch assault. Clifford was given a conditional bail of $15,000, which he posted shortly after the hearing. Prosecuting attorney Blair Buccione characterized the alleged assault as "remarkably violent" and asked for $25,000 bail, arguing to no avail that Clifford is a flight risk.

While free, Clifford is to have no contact with Vander Lee or his wife and will have to submit to alcohol testing on demand.

Also today, Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan released a statement about the Clifford-Vander Lee incident. It says:

I pray for Mr. Brian Vander Lee and his family.

Since we were made aware of this incident, the Minneapolis Police Department has actively assisted Anoka County with the criminal investigation. We also immediately initiated an internal investigation. The Minneapolis Police Department does not wait until a criminal prosecution has been completed to make internal findings and take disciplinary action.

Though Clifford won both the Medal of Valor and Merit Awards twice during his 19-year career with the MPD, FOX 9 reports he was part of an excessive force lawsuit stemming from a April 1995 arrest. The city eventually settled with the victim for $55,000. Clifford was also one of three Minneapolis SWAT team officers named as defendants in a civil rights lawsuit brought by a woman who was eventually awarded $1 million after being severely burned by a flash-bang grenade during a botched 2010 drug raid.

Assuming he abides by the conditions of his release, Clifford will remain free until his next court appearance, scheduled for July 19.

Previous coverage:
-- David Clifford, alleged sucker-punching Mpls police sergeant, claims self-defense
-- David Clifford, Mpls police sergeant, in jail after nearly killing man with alleged bar sucker punch

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