Minneapolis SWAT officer punches man unconscious on patio - Fox 2 News Headlines

Minneapolis police officer punches man unconscious on bar patio in Andover

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Sgt. David Clifford Sgt. David Clifford
Brian Vander Lee Brian Vander Lee

A father of four from Ramsey, Minn. is not spending this Father's Day as anyone would like. Brian Vander Lee is fighting for his life at Mercy Hospital.

UPDATE: Sgt. David Clifford charged with felony assault

"Everyone is taking it hard -- it's tough," said Mike Archambault, Vander Lee's longtime friend.

Archambault says Vander Lee was on the patio at Tanners in Andover around 7 p.m. Saturday night. Vander Lee was talking loud on his cell phone when a stranger at another table asked him to be quiet. Minutes later, Archambault spoke to Vander Lee as he was pulling into the parking lot, but the cell phone went dead.

"He did a Superman punch," Archambault said. "Brian went back, feet up in the air, and the guy landed on top of him and his head bounced off the concrete."

Archambault saw the man run off the patio as Vander Lee laid there unconscious. Vander Lee was rushed to the nearest hospital where he underwent emergency surgery for bleeding on his brain.

With at least ten witnesses on the patio including Vander Lee's wife, investigators quickly learned the suspect was possibly a Minneapolis police officer. They alerted the Minneapolis Police Department and went to the suspect's house, but did not find him.

At approximately 1:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon, Commander Paul Sommer says Sgt. David Clifford turned himself in to the Anoka County Jail with his lawyer by his side. Clifford made a statement to police and was booked into the jail awaiting charges for first and third-degree assault.

Sgt. Bill Palmer with the Minneapolis Police Department confirms Sgt. Clifford has been with the department since 1993 and is currently the executive officer of the SWAT team.

"I think he realized now, I don't think he realized how serious it was last night," Archambault said. "And now that word got out -- that Brian is in the condition he's in -- that he better do what's right."

Brian Vander Lee was on life support Sunday after two brain surgeries. Doctors are hopeful, saying his vital signs look good.

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