Adan Salazar
July 19, 2012

Last month we reported on a man being placed in intensive care after taking a sucker punch for talking too loudly on his cellphone. The attack came from an unlikely assailant, a SWAT team sergeant.

Minneapolis police Sgt. David Clifford, off-duty at the time, became so enraged after telling the person behind him to stop speaking loudly on his cell phone and being ignored that he launched a surprise “Superman punch” leaving his victim requiring, to date, three brain surgeries.

Now surveillance footage from the restaurant’s patio has been released featuring damning video evidence of a SWAT leader gone completely insane.

Clifford’s seen in the left hand side of the screen near the fence asking Brian Vander Lee, sitting behind him, to quiet down.

The police sergeant waits a few moments before asking again at which point Vander Lee stands up only to be leveled with a sucker punch right to his chin, which sends him hurling into the steel bars behind him, and ultimately landing back-of-his-head first on concrete.

Clifford is next seen pushing a woman, presumably Vander Lee’s wife, out of his way and running out of the establishment. Scott Wasserman of Fox 9 asked Clifford’s attorney Fred Bruno why Clifford ran, to which the attorney replied, “That will come out at a later date.” Information Liberation’s Chris asks why Clifford is not being charged with this crime: “After his murder attempt you can see him run away from the crime scene as well, yet for whatever reason he’s not being charged with fleeing the scene of the crime.”


The Anoka County prosecutor, Blair Buccicone, is baffled that police are going forward with the case. He says they’ve tried to spin the release of the video as “exonerating” evidence in favor of Clifford.

If anything, the video is irrefutable evidence to the contrary.

The accused, who has been a member of the Minneapolis Police department since 1993, also has an extensive military background. The Star Tribune noted that, “Clifford has earned praise from the U.S. State Department and the Hennepin County sheriff, and from the St. Paul police for his work during a 2008 Republican National Convention challenged by riots. The laudatory comments from the United Nations followed his service from September 2000 to September 2001 as a team leader for the International Peace Mission in Kosovo. He has earned two medals of valor from the Minneapolis Police Department.”

A military and SWAT service past, writes Kurt Nimmo, has undoubtedly left Clifford with an insatiable appetite for violence: “Military ‘service’ and his ‘tours of duty’ have turned Clifford into a raging psychopath. Police Departments prefer to hire these ‘veterans’ to deal with the public. The incident in Minnesota is the unfortunate result.”

The Star Tribune also exposes a few of Clifford’s past mishaps:

“But Clifford, an Osseo High School and University of Minnesota graduate, also was part of a botched SWAT team drug raid in 2010 that resulted in the city of Minneapolis paying a $1million settlement.

In another case in 1995, Clifford, suspecting he had confronted a prowler while on patrol, allegedly pepper-sprayed a man and then hit him several times in the head with a flashlight. Charges of fifth-degree assault were dropped for lack of evidence. The city of Minneapolis paid $55,000 in a settlement of a civil suit.”

Since the incident, Clifford has maintained his innocence, but is now facing charges of first degree assault, upgraded from charges of third degree assault.

Clifford’s attorney told Fox 9 that the upgraded charges are in retaliation for Clifford maintaining his innocence, but the county prosecutor says that they were upgraded because “If there hadn’t been medical intervention, Brian Vander Lee likely would have died.”

Clifford is scheduled to appear in the Anoka County District Court Thursday. Vander Lee’s wife says Brian is home “in good spirits” and thankful to be alive.

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